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Nicotine Tob Res. 2014 Feb;16(2):137-44. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntt125. Epub 2013 Aug 13.

Effect of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor genes (CHRN) on longitudinal cigarettes per day in adolescents and young adults.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT;



Few studies have sought to identify specific genetic markers associated with cigarettes per day (CPD) during adolescence and young adulthood, the period of greatest vulnerability for the development of nicotine dependence.


We used a longitudinal design to investigate the effect of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (CHRN) subunit genes on CPD from 15 to 21 years of age in young smokers of European descent (N = 439, 59% female). The number of CPD typically smoked during the previous 30 days was self-reported. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from CHRN genes were genotyped using DNA extracted from saliva samples collected at the 5-year assessment. Mixed-model analyses of SNP effects were computed across age at the time of assessment using log-transformed CPD as the phenotype. Data from the 1000 Genomes Project were used to clarify the architecture of CHRN genes to inform SNP selection and interpretation of results.


CPD was associated with a CHRNB3A6 region tagged by rs2304297, with CHRNA5A3B4 haplotype C (tagged by rs569207), and with the CHRNA2 SNP rs2271920, ps < .004. The reliability of single-SNP associations was supported by the correspondence between a more extensive set of SNP signals and the underlying genetic architecture. The 3 signals identified in this study appear to make independent contributions to CPD, and their combined effect accounts for 5.5% of the variance in log-transformed CPD.


Level of CPD during adolescence and young adulthood is associated with CHRNB3A6, CHRNA5A3B4, and CHRNA2.

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