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1.  Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Variation and Response to Smoking Cessation Therapies 
Pharmacogenetics and genomics  2013;23(2):94-103.
Objective
Evaluate nicotinic acetycholine receptor (nAChR) single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) association with seven day point prevalence abstinence (abstinence) in randomized clinical trials of smoking cessation therapies (RCTs) in individuals grouped by pharmacotherapy randomization to inform the development of personalized smoking cessation therapy.
Methods
We quantified association of four SNPs at three nAChRs with abstinence in eight RCTs. Participants were 2,633 outpatient treatment-seeking, self-identified European ancestry individuals smoking ≥10 cigarettes per day, recruited via advertisement, prescribed pharmacotherapy, and provided with behavioral therapy. Interventions included nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), bupropion, varenicline, placebo or combined NRT and bupropion, and five modes of group and individual behavioral therapy. Outcome measures tested in multivariate logistic regression were end of treatment (EOT) and six month (6MO) abstinence, with demographic, behavioral and genetic covariates.
Results
“Risk” alleles previously associated with smoking heaviness were significantly (P<0.05) associated with reduced abstinence in the placebo pharmacotherapy group (PG) at 6MO [for rs588765 OR (95%CI) 0.41 (0.17–0.99)], and at EOT and at 6MO [for rs1051730, 0.42 (0.19–0.93) and 0.31 (0.12–0.80)], and with increased abstinence in the NRT PG at 6MO [for rs588765 2.07 (1.11–3.87) and for rs1051730 2.54 (1.29–4.99)]. We observed significant heterogeneity in rs1051730 effects (F=2.48, P=0.021) between PGs.
Conclusions
chr15q25.1 nAChR SNP risk alleles for smoking heaviness significantly increase relapse with placebo treatment and significantly increase abstinence with NRT. These SNP-PG associations require replication in independent samples for validation, and testing in larger sample sizes to evaluate whether similar effects occur in other PGs.
doi:10.1097/FPC.0b013e32835cdabd
PMCID: PMC3563676  PMID: 23249876
logistic regression; mediation analysis; nAChR variation; nicotine dependence; pharmacotherapy; randomized clinical trials
2.  Pharmacogenetic Smoking Cessation Intervention in a Health Care Setting: A Pilot Feasibility Study 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2012;15(2):518-526.
Introduction:
There is increasing evidence that response to pharmacological treatment for nicotine dependence may be moderated by genetic polymorphisms. However, the feasibility, acceptability, and impact of genetically tailoring treatment in real-world clinical settings are unknown.
Methods:
We conducted a multiphased, mixed-methods feasibility study with current smokers to develop and evaluate a patient-centered, theoretically grounded personalized medicine treatment protocol. The initial research phase included formative work to develop intervention materials. The second phase included a randomized pilot trial to evaluate the intervention. Trial participants (n = 36) were genotyped for ANKK1 rs1800497 and were randomized to receive genetic feedback (GF) plus standard behavioral counseling (BC) for smoking cessation or BC without GF. All participants received genetically tailored pharmacotherapy (nicotine patch or bupropion).
Results:
The intervention was feasible to implement and was acceptable to participants based on satisfaction ratings and objective measures of participation. There was no evidence that the GF resulted in adverse psychological outcomes (e.g., depression, fatalism, reduced perceived control over quitting, differential motivation for quitting) based on quantitative or qualitative outcomes.
Conclusions:
Study results suggest that it is feasible to offer treatment within a health care setting that includes genetically tailored pharmacotherapy and doing so had no apparent adverse psychological impacts. Further evaluation of pharmacogenetically tailored smoking cessation interventions appears warranted.
doi:10.1093/ntr/nts173
PMCID: PMC3611995  PMID: 22949583
3.  Chronic psychosocial stressors and salivary biomarkers in emerging adults 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2011;37(8):1158-1170.
Summary
We investigated whole saliva as a source of biomarkers to distinguish individuals who have, and who have not, been chronically exposed to severe and threatening life difficulties. We evaluated RNA and DNA metrics, expression of 37 candidate genes, and cortisol release in response to the Trier Social Stress Test, as well as clinical characteristics, from 48 individuals stratified on chronic exposure to psychosocial stressors within the last year as measured by the Life Events and Difficulties Schedule. Candidate genes were selected based on their differential gene expression ratio in circulating monocytes from a published genome-wide analysis of adults experiencing different levels of exposure to a chronic stressor.
In univariate analyses, we observed significantly decreased RNA integrity (RIN) score (P = 0.04), and reduced expression of glucocorticoid receptor-regulated genes (Ps < 0.05) in whole saliva RNA from individuals exposed to chronic stressors, as compared to those with no exposure. In those exposed, we observed significantly decreased BMI (P < 0.001), increased ever-smoking and increased lifetime alcohol abuse or dependence (P ≤ 0.03), and a reduction of cortisol release. In post hoc multivariate analyses including clinical and biospecimen-derived variables, we consistently observed significantly decreased expression of IL8 (Ps < 0.05) in individuals exposed, with no significant association to RIN score. Alcohol use disorders, tobacco use, a reduced acute stress response and decreased salivary IL8 gene expression characterize emerging adults chronically exposed to severe and threatening psychosocial stressors.
doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.11.010
PMCID: PMC3774595  PMID: 22172638
Human; Saliva; Gene expression; IL8; qPCR
4.  Dopamine genes and nicotine dependence in treatment seeking and community smokers 
We utilized a cohort of 828 treatment seeking self-identified white cigarette smokers (50% female) to rank candidate gene single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND), a measure of nicotine dependence which assesses quantity of cigarettes smoked and time- and place-dependent characteristics of the respondent’s smoking behavior. 1123 SNPs at 55 autosomal candidate genes, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and genes involved in dopaminergic function, were tested for association to baseline FTND scores adjusted for age, depression, education, sex and study site. SNP P values were adjusted for the number of transmission models, the number of SNPs tested per candidate gene, and their intragenic correlation. DRD2, SLC6A3 and NR4A2 SNPs with adjusted P values < 0.10 were considered sufficiently noteworthy to justify further genetic, bioinformatic and literature analyses. Each independent signal among the top-ranked SNPs accounted for ~1% of the FTND variance in this sample. The DRD2 SNP appears to represent a novel association with nicotine dependence. The SLC6A3 SNPs have previously been shown to be associated with SLC6A3 transcription or dopamine transporter density in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo. Analysis of SLC6A3 and NR4A2 SNPs identified a statistically significant gene-gene interaction (P=0.001), consistent with in vitro evidence that the NR4A2 protein product (NURR1) regulates SLC6A3 transcription. A community cohort of N=175 multiplex ever smoking pedigrees (N=423 ever smokers) provided nominal evidence for association with the FTND at these top ranked SNPs, uncorrected for multiple comparisons.
doi:10.1038/npp.2009.52
PMCID: PMC3558036  PMID: 19494806
dopamine transporter; Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence; single nucleotide polymorphism; candidate gene association scan; gene-gene interaction
5.  Association of the Calcyon Neuron-Specific Vesicular Protein Gene (CALY) With Adolescent Smoking Initiation in China and California 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2011;173(9):1039-1048.
Although previous investigations have indicated a role for genetic factors in smoking initiation, the underlying genetic mechanisms are still unknown. In 2,339 adolescents from a Chinese Han population in the Wuhan Smoking Prevention Trial (Wuhan, China, 1998–1999), the authors explored the association of 57 genes in the dopamine pathway with smoking initiation. Using a conservative approach for declaring significance, positive findings were further examined in an independent sample of 603 Caucasian adolescents followed for up to 10 years as part of the Children's Health Study (Southern California, 1993–2009). The authors identified 1 single nucleotide polymorphism (rs2298122) in the calcyon neuron-specific vesicular protein gene (CALY) that was positively associated with smoking initiation in females (odds ratio = 2.21, 95% confidence interval: 1.49, 3.27; P = 8.4 × 10−5) in the Wuhan Smoking Prevention Trial cohort, and they replicated the association in females from the Children's Health Study cohort (hazard rate ratio = 2.05, 95% confidence interval: 1.27, 3.31; P = 0.003). These results suggest that the CALY gene may influence smoking initiation in adolescents, although the potential roles of underlying psychological characteristics that may be components of the smoking-initiation phenotype, such as impulsivity or novelty-seeking, remain to be explored.
doi:10.1093/aje/kwq471
PMCID: PMC3121219  PMID: 21415033
adolescent; dopamine; genetic association studies; smoking
6.  Clinical trial participant characteristics and saliva and DNA metrics 
Background
Clinical trial and epidemiological studies need high quality biospecimens from a representative sample of participants to investigate genetic influences on treatment response and disease. Obtaining blood biospecimens presents logistical and financial challenges. As a result, saliva biospecimen collection is becoming more frequent because of the ease of collection and lower cost. This article describes an assessment of saliva biospecimen samples collected through the mail, trial participant demographic and behavioral characteristics, and their association with saliva and DNA quantity and quality.
Methods
Saliva biospecimens were collected using the Oragene® DNA Self-Collection Kits from participants in a National Cancer Institute funded smoking cessation trial. Saliva biospecimens from 565 individuals were visually inspected for clarity prior to and after DNA extraction. DNA samples were then quantified by UV absorbance, PicoGreen®, and qPCR. Genotyping was performed on 11 SNPs using TaqMan® SNP assays and two VNTR assays. Univariate, correlation, and analysis of variance analyses were conducted to observe the relationship between saliva sample and participant characteristics.
Results
The biospecimen kit return rate was 58.5% among those invited to participate (n = 967) and 47.1% among all possible COMPASS participants (n = 1202). Significant gender differences were observed with males providing larger saliva volume (4.7 vs. 4.5 ml, p = 0.019), samples that were more likely to be judged as cloudy (39.5% vs. 24.9%, p < 0.001), and samples with greater DNA yield as measured by UV (190.0 vs. 138.5, p = 0.002), but reduced % human DNA content (73.2 vs. 77.6 p = 0.005) than females. Other participant characteristics (age, self-identified ethnicity, baseline cigarettes per day) were associated with saliva clarity. Saliva volume and saliva and DNA clarity were positively correlated with total DNA yield by all three quantification measurements (all r > 0.21, P < 0.001), but negatively correlated with % human DNA content (saliva volume r = -0.148 and all P < 0.010). Genotyping completion rate was not influenced by saliva or DNA clarity.
Conclusion
Findings from this study show that demographic and behavioral characteristics of smoking cessation trial participants have significant associations with saliva and DNA metrics, but not with the performance of TaqMan® SNP or VNTR genotyping assays.
Trial registration
COMPASS; registered as NCT00301145 at clinicaltrials.gov.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-9-71
PMCID: PMC2776600  PMID: 19874586

Results 1-6 (6)