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Ment Health Phys Act. 2016 Mar;10:73-77.

BDNF Val66Met Polymorphism as a Moderator of Exercise Enhancement of Smoking Cessation Treatment in Anxiety Vulnerable Adults.

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Department of Psychology and Institute for Mental Health Research, The University of Texas at Austin.
Department of Psychology, Southern Methodist University.
Department of Psychology, University of Houston; Department of Behavioral Science, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California at San Diego.
Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University.
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University.



Exercise interventions facilitate odds of quit success among high-anxiety sensitive adults smokers. We examined the dependency of these benefits on the genetic BDNF Val66Met (rs6265) polymorphism; individuals who are Met carriers have lower BDNF responses and reduced associated benefits from exercise. Accordingly, we hypothesized that the efficacy of vigorous exercise for smoking cessation would be specific to high-anxiety sensitive Val/Val carriers.


Participants were adults (N=55) of European ancestry who had participated in a randomized controlled trial comparing a smoking cessation program augmented with exercise vs. augmented with a wellness control treatment. In this secondary analysis, growth curve models for point-prevalence abstinence (PPA) and prolonged abstinence (PA) employed for the main outcome analyses were amended to test the moderator effects of the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism.


Consistent with prediction, the advantage of exercise over control for PPA was significantly greater among high-anxiety sensitive persons with the Val/Val genotype than for those with the Val/Met genotype. This advantage did not reach statistical significance for PA. Differences in abstinence between the exercise and control interventions among low-anxiety sensitive smokers were not dependent on the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism.


We found that the efficacy of exercise for augmenting smoking cessation treatment is intensified among high-anxiety sensitive smokers who are Val/Val carriers. This observation is consistent with findings documenting BDNF mediation of exercise benefits and greater negative affect among smokers who are Val/Val carriers. These data encourage further evaluation of the association between the BDNF polymorphism, exercise, anxiety sensitivity, and smoking cessation.


anxiety sensitivity; biomarkers; exercise; genetics; rs6265; smoking cessation

[Available on 2017-03-01]

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