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BMC Genet. 2007 Jul 3;8:46.

Variation in the gene coding for the M5 muscarinic receptor (CHRM5) influences cigarette dose but is not associated with dependence to drugs of addiction: evidence from a prospective population based cohort study of young adults.

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  • 1Neuropsychiatric Genetics Research Group, Department of Psychiatry, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.



The mesolimbic structures of the brain are important in the anticipation and perception of reward. Moreover, many drugs of addiction elicit their response in these structures. The M5 muscarinic receptor (M5R) is expressed in dopamine-containing neurones of the substantia nigra pars compacta and ventral tegmental area, and regulates the release of mesolimbic dopamine. Mice lacking M5R show a substantial reduction in both reward and withdrawal responses to morphine and cocaine. The CHRM5, the gene that codes for the M5R, is a strong biological candidate for a role in human addiction. We screened the coding and core promoter sequences of CHRM5 using denaturing high performance liquid chromatography to identify common polymorphisms. Additional polymorphisms within the coding and core promoter regions that were identified through dbSNP were validated in the test population. We investigated whether these polymorphisms influence substance dependence and dose in a cohort of 1947 young Australians.


Analysis was performed on 815 participants of European ancestry who were interviewed at wave 8 of the cohort study and provided DNA. We observed a 26.8% increase in cigarette consumption in carriers of the rs7162140 T-allele, equating to 20.1 cigarettes per week (p=0.01). Carriers of the rs7162140 T-allele were also found to have nearly a 3-fold increased risk of developing cannabis dependence (OR=2.9 (95%CI 1.1-7.4); p=0.03).


Our data suggest that variation within the CHRM5 locus may play an important role in tobacco and cannabis but not alcohol addiction in European ancestry populations. This is the first study to show an association between CHRM5 and substance use in humans. These data support the further investigation of this gene as a risk factor in substance use and dependence.

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