Delta opioid receptors are implicated in a variety of psychiatric and neurological disorders. These receptors play a key role in the reinforcing properties of drugs of abuse, and polymorphisms in OPRD1 (the gene encoding delta opioid receptors) are associated with drug addiction. Delta opioid receptors are also involved in protecting neurons against hypoxic and ischemic stress. Here, we first examined a large sample of 738 elderly participants with neuroimaging and genetic data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. We hypothesized that common variants in OPRD1 would be associated with differences in brain structure, particularly in regions relevant to addictive and neurodegenerative disorders. One very common variant (rs678849) predicted differences in regional brain volumes. We replicated the association of this single-nucleotide polymorphism with regional tissue volumes in a large sample of young participants in the Queensland Twin Imaging study. Although the same allele was associated with reduced volumes in both cohorts, the brain regions affected differed between the two samples. In healthy elderly, exploratory analyses suggested that the genotype associated with reduced brain volumes in both cohorts may also predict cerebrospinal fluid levels of neurodegenerative biomarkers, but this requires confirmation. If opiate receptor genetic variants are related to individual differences in brain structure, genotyping of these variants may be helpful when designing clinical trials targeting delta opioid receptors to treat neurological disorders.
neuroimaging; genetics; neurodegeneration; drug addiction; opiates
Lummaa et al. (2007) presented historical data collected from twins born in Finland between 1734 and 1888 which suggested that females (N = 31) born as part of an opposite sex (OS) twin pair were 25% less likely to reproduce than female twins (N = 35) born as part of a same sex (SS) pair. They hypothesized that this reduction in fitness was due to masculinization of the female fetus via prenatal effects of the hormones of a male fetus. Because such masculinization would presumably take place in modern populations as well, it would seem important to establish to what degree it does so, and if so, whether reproduction is affected. We therefore address the question of reproduction differences in individual female twins from same-sex (N = 1979) and opposite-sex (N = 913) dizygotic pairs in studies carried out in Australia, the Netherlands, and the United States. In all three samples, there were no differences in the number of children or age of first pregnancies in women from same sex pairs compared to those from opposite sex pairs. Similarly, there were no differences in psychological femininity between women from pairs of the same or opposite sex.
fertility; hormone transfer; twinning
Elevated resting heart rate is associated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. In a 2-stage meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in up to 181,171 individuals, we identified 14 new loci associated with heart rate and confirmed associations with all 7 previously established loci. Experimental downregulation of gene expression in Drosophila melanogaster and Danio rerio identified 20 genes at 11 loci that are relevant for heart rate regulation and highlight a role for genes involved in signal transmission, embryonic cardiac development and the pathophysiology of dilated cardiomyopathy, congenital heart failure and/or sudden cardiac death. In addition, genetic susceptibility to increased heart rate is associated with altered cardiac conduction and reduced risk of sick sinus syndrome, and both heart rate–increasing and heart rate–decreasing variants associate with risk of atrial fibrillation. Our findings provide fresh insights into the mechanisms regulating heart rate and identify new therapeutic targets.
The effects of sibship size and structure on delinquency are well established. Specifically, having a large family and many brothers has been shown to predict offending. However, despite strong links between delinquency and alcohol use, the contribution of sibship factors to drinking behaviors remains largely unexplored. The current study investigated the impact of sibship size and composition on younger brothers’ and sisters’ ages of drinking and intoxication onset.
We employed a sample of 4,281 same-sex twins from the Australian Twin Register to examine whether: (1) large sibship size facilitates earlier age at first drink (AFD) and age at first intoxication (AFI) in males and females; (2) having many older brothers predicts earlier ages of AFD and AFI in males; and (3) having many older brothers results in later AFD and AFI in females. We tested whether effects were moderated by parental divorce and alcohol misuse and mediated by familial religion.
Sibling effects were minimal before accounting for family context. However, when parental divorce and excessive parental drinking were included as moderators, sibling effects were significantly amplified among individuals from homes of divorce, and effects were strongest when siblings were close in age.
Strong close in age older (CIAO) sibling effects indicate that proximal sibling attitudes and behaviors about alcohol likely interact with structural factors to influence younger siblings' drinking. Sibship factors were much more influential in one population (individuals from homes of divorce) than another (respondents with parental history of excessive drinking), suggesting that sibling effects vary depending on the type of co-occurring familial risk. Prevention efforts performed at the family level, and introduced before first use of alcohol, are likely to delay drinking initiation and help prevent future alcohol problems.
age at first drink; siblings; sibship composition; close in age; twins
Deficits in lentiform nucleus volume and morphometry are implicated in a number of genetically influenced disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and ADHD. Here we performed genome-wide searches to discover common genetic variants associated with differences in lentiform nucleus volume in human populations. We assessed structural MRI scans of the brain in two large genotyped samples: the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI; N=706) and the Queensland Twin Imaging Study (QTIM; N=639). Statistics of association from each cohort were combined meta-analytically using a fixed-effects model to boost power and to reduce the prevalence of false positive findings. We identified a number of associations in and around the flavin-containing monooxygenase (FMO) gene cluster. The most highly associated SNP, rs1795240, was located in the FMO3 gene; after meta-analysis, it showed genome-wide significant evidence of association with lentiform nucleus volume (PMA=4.79×10−8). This commonly-carried genetic variant accounted for 2.68 % and 0.84 % of the trait variability in the ADNI and QTIM samples, respectively, even though the QTIM sample was on average 50 years younger. Pathway enrichment analysis revealed significant contributions of this gene to the cytochrome P450 pathway, which is involved in metabolizing numerous therapeutic drugs for pain, seizures, mania, depression, anxiety, and psychosis. The genetic variants we identified provide replicated, genome-wide significant evidence for the FMO gene cluster’s involvement in lentiform nucleus volume differences in human populations.
Basal ganglia; Genome-wide association study (GWAS); MRI; Replication; Morphometry; Drug metabolism
Identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with development of advanced colorectal adenomas.
Discovery Phase: 1,406 Caucasian patients (139 advanced adenoma cases and 1,267 controls) from the Adenoma Prevention with Celecoxib (APC) trial were included in a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify variants associated with post-polypectomy disease recurrence. Genome-wide significance was defined as false discovery rate < 0.05, unadjusted p=7.4×10−7. Validation Phase: Results were further evaluated using 4,175 familial colorectal adenoma or CRC cases and 5,036 controls from patients of European ancestry (COloRectal Gene Identification consortium, Scotland, Australia and VQ58).
Our study identified eight SNPs associated with advanced adenoma risk in the APC trial (rs2837156, rs7278863, rs2837237, rs2837241, rs2837254, rs741864 at 21q22.2, and rs1381392 and rs17651822 at 3p24.1, at p<10–7 level with odds ratio – OR>2). Five variants in strong pairwise linkage disequilbrium (rs7278863, rs2837237, rs741864, rs741864 and rs2837241, r2=0.8–1) are in or near the coding region for the tight junction adhesion protein, IGSF5. An additional variant associated with advanced adenomas, rs1535989 (minor allele frequency 0.11; OR 2.09; 95% confidence interval 1.50–2.91), also predicted CRC development in a validation analysis (p=0.019) using a series of adenoma cases or CRC (CORGI study) and 3 sets of CRC cases and controls (Scotland, VQ58 and Australia, N=9,211).
Our results suggest that common polymorphisms contribute to the risk of developing advanced adenomas and might also contribute to the risk of developing CRC. The variant at rs1535989 may identify patients whose risk for neoplasia warrants increased colonoscopic surveillance.
Colorectal adenomas; colorectal cancer screening; genetic predisposition
The human connectome has recently become a popular research topic in neuroscience, and many new algorithms have been applied to analyze brain networks. In particular, network topology measures from graph theory have been adapted to analyze network efficiency and ‘small-world’ properties. While there has been a surge in the number of papers examining connectivity through graph theory, questions remain about its test-retest reliability (TRT). In particular, the reproducibility of structural connectivity measures has not been assessed. We examined the TRT of global connectivity measures generated from graph theory analyses of 17 young adults who underwent two high-angular resolution diffusion (HARDI) scans approximately 3 months apart. Of the measures assessed, modularity had the highest TRT, and it was stable across a range of sparsities (a thresholding parameter used to define which network edges are retained). These reliability measures underline the need to develop network descriptors that are robust to acquisition parameters.
Imaging genetics aims to discover how variants in the human genome influence brain measures derived from images. Genome-wide association scans (GWAS) can screen the genome for common differences in our DNA that relate to brain measures. In small samples, GWAS has low power as individual gene effects are weak and one must also correct for multiple comparisons across the genome and the image. Here we extend recent work on genetic clustering of images, to analyze surface-based models of anatomy using GWAS. We performed spherical harmonic analysis of hippocampal surfaces, automatically extracted from brain MRI scans of 1254 subjects. We clustered hippocampal surface regions with common genetic influences by examining genetic correlations (rg) between the normalized deformation values at all pairs of surface points. Using genetic correlations to cluster surface measures, we were able to boost effect sizes for genetic associations, compared to clustering with traditional phenotypic correlations using Pearson's r.
heritability; GWAS; clustering; hippocampus; 3D surfaces; imaging genetics
Mega- or meta-analytic studies (e.g. genome-wide association studies) are increasingly used in behavior genetics. An issue in such studies is that phenotypes are often measured by different instruments across study cohorts, requiring harmonization of measures so that more powerful fixed effect meta-analyses can be employed. Within the Genetics of Personality Consortium, we demonstrate for two clinically relevant personality traits, Neuroticism and Extraversion, how Item-Response Theory (IRT) can be applied to map item data from different inventories to the same underlying constructs. Personality item data were analyzed in >160,000 individuals from 23 cohorts across Europe, USA and Australia in which Neuroticism and Extraversion were assessed by nine different personality inventories. Results showed that harmonization was very successful for most personality inventories and moderately successful for some. Neuroticism and Extraversion inventories were largely measurement invariant across cohorts, in particular when comparing cohorts from countries where the same language is spoken. The IRT-based scores for Neuroticism and Extraversion were heritable (48 and 49 %, respectively, based on a meta-analysis of six twin cohorts, total N = 29,496 and 29,501 twin pairs, respectively) with a significant part of the heritability due to non-additive genetic factors. For Extraversion, these genetic factors qualitatively differ across sexes. We showed that our IRT method can lead to a large increase in sample size and therefore statistical power. The IRT approach may be applied to any mega- or meta-analytic study in which item-based behavioral measures need to be harmonized.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10519-014-9654-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Personality; Item-Response Theory; Measurement; Genome-wide association studies; Consortium; Meta-analysis
The insula, hidden deep within the Sylvian fissures, has proven difficult to study from a connectivity perspective. Most of our current information on the anatomical connectivity of the insula comes from studies of nonhuman primates and post mortem human dissections. To date, only two neuroimaging studies have successfully examined the connectivity of the insula. Here we examine how the connectivity of the insula develops between ages 12 and 30, in 307 young adolescent and adult subjects scanned with 4-Tesla high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI). The density of fiber connections between the insula and the frontal and parietal cortex decreased with age, but the connection density between the insula and the temporal cortex generally increased with age. This trajectory is in line with well-known patterns of cortical development in these regions. In addition, males and females showed different developmental trajectories for the connection between the left insula and the left precentral gyrus. The insula plays many different roles, some of them affected in neuropsychiatric disorders; this information on the insula's connectivity may help efforts to elucidate mechanisms of brain disorders in which it is implicated.
insula; development; tractography; HARDI; structural connectivity
A large part of the variation in cognitive ability is known to be due to genetic factors. Researchers have tried to identify modifiers that influence the heritability of cognitive ability, indicating a genotype by environment interaction (GxE). To date, such modifiers include measured variables like income and socioeconomic status. The present paper focuses on GxE in cognitive ability where the environmental variable is an unmeasured environmental factor that is uncorrelated in family members. We examined this type of GxE in the GHCA-database (Haworth et al., 2009), which comprises data of 14 different cognition studies from 4 different countries including participants of different ages. Results indicate that for younger participants (4–13 years), the strength of E decreases across the additive genetic factor A, but that this effect reverts for older participants (17–34 years). However, a clear and general conclusion about the presence of a genuine GxE is hampered by differences between the individual studies with respect to environmental and genetic influences on cognitive ability.
Genotype by environment interaction; heritability; environment; intelligence; development; ability differentiation
Disordered gambling is a moderately heritable trait, but the underlying genetic basis is largely unknown. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for disordered gambling using a quantitative factor score in 1,312 twins from 894 Australian families. Association was conducted for 2,381,914 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) using the family-based association test in Merlin followed by gene and pathway enrichment analyses. Although no SNP reached genome-wide significance, six achieved P-values < 1 × 10−5 with variants in three genes (MT1X, ATXN1 and VLDLR) implicated in disordered gambling. Secondary case-control analyses found two SNPs on chromosome 9 (rs1106076 and rs12305135 near VLDLR) and rs10812227 near FZD10 on chromosome 12 to be significantly associated with lifetime DSM-IV pathological gambling and SOGS classified probable pathological gambling status. Furthermore, several addiction-related pathways were enriched for SNPs associated with disordered gambling. Finally, gene-based analysis of 24 candidate genes for dopamine agonist induced gambling in individuals with Parkinson’s disease suggested an enrichment of SNPs associated with disordered gambling. We report the first GWAS of disordered gambling. While further replication is required, the identification of susceptibility loci and biological pathways will be important in characterizing the biological mechanisms that underpin disordered gambling.
association; disordered gambling; genomewide; MERLIN; quantitative
There are robust sex differences for alcohol phenotypes, with men reporting more drinking and alcohol use disorder (AUD) symptoms than women. However, the sources of these effects are not completely understood. Sex hormones, a substantial biological sex difference, exert neurobehavioral influences and are candidates for influencing sex differences in alcohol phenotypes. The current study investigated the effects of prenatal androgens based on the hypothesis of prenatal hormone transfer, which posits that hormones from one twin influence the development of a co-twin.
The current study compared female twins from opposite-sex (OSF) and same-sex (SSF) pairs to investigate associations between prenatal androgens and alcohol phenotypes. Additional analyses distinguished prenatal and postnatal effects by comparing OSFs and SSFs with a close-in-age older (CAO) brother.
OSFs endorsed more lifetime AUD symptoms than SSFs (d = 0.14). Females with a CAO brother reported greater intoxication frequency (d = 0.35), hangover frequency (d = 0.24), typical drinking quantity (d = 0.33), and max drinks (i.e., the most drinks ever consumed in a 24-hour period; d = 0.29). Controlling for postnatal effects, OSFs still endorsed more lifetime AUD symptoms than SSFs with a CAO brother (d = 0.16).
Prenatal exposure to a male co-twin was associated with increases in AUD symptoms, above the effect of postnatal exposure to a male sibling. Prenatal exposure to a male co-twin was not associated with increases in other alcohol-related phenotypes, but postnatal exposure to older male siblings produced medium effect sizes for indicators of alcohol consumption. Sex differences in AUDs, but not alcohol use, may be partially due to the neurodevelopmental effects of prenatal androgens. However, sibling effects may be larger than any effect of prenatal androgen exposure.
prenatal; androgen; alcohol; alcohol use disorder; twins; sibling; familial
Several studies have identified genes associated with alcohol use disorders, but the variation in each of these genes explains only a small portion of the genetic vulnerability. The goal of the present study was to perform a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in extended families from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) to identify novel genes affecting risk for alcohol dependence. To maximize the power of the extended family design we used a quantitative endophenotype, measured in all individuals: number of alcohol dependence symptoms endorsed (symptom count). Secondary analyses were performed to determine if the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with symptom count were also associated with the dichotomous phenotype, DSM-IV alcohol dependence. This family-based GWAS identified SNPs in C15orf53 that are strongly associated with DSM-IV alcohol (p=4.5×10−8, inflation corrected p=9.4×10−7). Results with DSM-IV alcohol dependence in the regions of interest support our findings with symptom count, though the associations were less significant. Attempted replications of the most promising association results were conducted in two independent samples: non-overlapping subjects from the Study of Addiction: Genes and Environment (SAGE) and the Australian twin-family study of alcohol use disorders (OZALC). Nominal association of C15orf53 with symptom count was observed in SAGE. The variant that showed strongest association with symptom count, rs12912251 and its highly correlated variants (D′=1, r2≥ 0.95), has previously been associated with risk for bipolar disorder.
DSM-IV alcohol dependence symptoms; Family-based GWAS; C15orf53; Quantitative traits
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol are heritable, modifiable, risk factors for coronary artery disease. To identify new loci and refine known loci influencing these lipids, we examined 188,578 individuals using genome-wide and custom genotyping arrays. We identify and annotate 157 loci associated with lipid levels at P < 5×10−8, including 62 loci not previously associated with lipid levels in humans. Using dense genotyping in individuals of European, East Asian, South Asian, and African ancestry, we narrow association signals in 12 loci. We find that loci associated with blood lipids are often associated with cardiovascular and metabolic traits including coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, waist-hip ratio, and body mass index. Our results illustrate the value of genetic data from individuals of diverse ancestries and provide insights into biological mechanisms regulating blood lipids to guide future genetic, biological, and therapeutic research.
Triglycerides are transported in plasma by specific triglyceride-rich lipoproteins; in epidemiologic studies, increased triglyceride levels correlate with higher risk for coronary artery disease (CAD). However, it is unclear whether this association reflects causal processes. We used 185 common variants recently mapped for plasma lipids (P<5×10−8 for each) to examine the role of triglycerides on risk for CAD. First, we highlight loci associated with both low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglycerides, and show that the direction and magnitude of both are factors in determining CAD risk. Second, we consider loci with only a strong magnitude of association with triglycerides and show that these loci are also associated with CAD. Finally, in a model accounting for effects on LDL-C and/or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, a polymorphism's strength of effect on triglycerides is correlated with the magnitude of its effect on CAD risk. These results suggest that triglyceride-rich lipoproteins causally influence risk for CAD.
Inter-individual variation in mean leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is associated with cancer and several age-associated diseases. Here, in a genome-wide meta-analysis of 37,684 individuals with replication of selected variants in a further 10,739 individuals, we identified seven loci, including five novel loci, associated with mean LTL (P<5x10−8). Five of the loci contain genes (TERC, TERT, NAF1, OBFC1, RTEL1) that are known to be involved in telomere biology. Lead SNPs at two loci (TERC and TERT) associate with several cancers and other diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Moreover, a genetic risk score analysis combining lead variants at all seven loci in 22,233 coronary artery disease cases and 64,762 controls showed an association of the alleles associated with shorter LTL with increased risk of CAD (21% (95% CI: 5–35%) per standard deviation in LTL, p=0.014). Our findings support a causal role of telomere length variation in some age-related diseases.
Accumulating evidence suggests that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) diagnostic criteria for cannabis abuse and dependence are best represented by a single underlying factor. However, it remains possible that models with additional factors, or latent class models or hybrid models, may better explain the data. Using structured interviews, 626 adult male and female twins provided complete data on symptoms of cannabis abuse and dependence, plus a craving criterion. We compared latent factor analysis, latent class analysis, and factor mixture modeling using normal theory marginal maximum likelihood for ordinal data. Our aim was to derive a parsimonious, best-fitting cannabis use disorder (CUD) phenotype based on DSM-IV criteria and determine whether DSM-5 craving loads onto a general factor. When compared with latent class and mixture models, factor models provided a better fit to the data. When conditioned on initiation and cannabis use, the association between criteria for abuse, dependence, withdrawal, and craving were best explained by two correlated latent factors for males and females: a general risk factor to CUD and a factor capturing the symptoms of social and occupational impairment as a consequence of frequent use. Secondary analyses revealed a modest increase in the prevalence of DSM-5 CUD compared with DSM-IV cannabis abuse or dependence. It is concluded that, in addition to a general factor with loadings on cannabis use and symptoms of abuse, dependence, withdrawal, and craving, a second clinically relevant factor defined by features of social and occupational impairment was also found for frequent cannabis use.
cannabis use disorder; DSM-IV; DSM-5; craving; latent class analysis; mixture modeling; factor analysis; marijuana; symptoms; abuse; dependence
Disordered gambling (DG) will soon be included along with the substance use disorders in a revised diagnostic category of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5 called ‘Substance Use and Addictive Disorders’. This was premised in part on the common etiologies of DG and the substance use disorders. Using data from the national community-based Australian Twin Registry, we used biometric model fitting to examine the extent to which the genetic liabilities for DG and alcohol use disorder (AUD) were shared, and whether this differed for men and women. The effect of using categorical versus dimensional DG and AUD phenotypes was explored, as was the effect of using diagnoses based on the DSM-IV and the proposed DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. The genetic correlations between DG and AUD ranged from 0.29 to 0.44. There was a significantly larger genetic correlation between DG and AUD among men than women when using dimensional phenotypes. Overall, about one-half to two-thirds of the association between DG and AUD was due to a shared genetic vulnerability. This study represents one of the few empirical demonstrations of an overlap in the genetic risk for DG and another substance-related addictive disorder. More research is needed on the genetic overlap between DG and other substance use disorders, as well as the genetic overlap between DG and other (non-substance-related) psychiatric disorders.
disordered gambling; alcohol use disorder; genetic influences; twin study; sex differences; comorbidity
Alcohol consumption has multiple biochemical consequences. Only a few of these are useful as diagnostic markers but many reflect potentially harmful or beneficial effects of alcohol. Average consumption of two to four drinks per day is associated with lower overall or cardiovascular mortality risk than either lower or higher intake. We have analysed the dose-response relationships between reported alcohol consumption and 17 biomarkers, with emphasis on intake of up to three drinks per day.
Biochemical tests were performed on serum from 8396 study participants (3750 men and 4646 women, aged 51 ± 13 years, range 18–93) who had provided information on alcohol consumption in the week preceding blood collection.
GGT, ALT, AST, CDT, urate, ferritin and bilirubin showed little or no change with alcohol consumption below two to three drinks per day, but increased with higher intake. HDL-C and albumin showed increasing results, and insulin showed decreasing results, across the entire range of alcohol use. Biphasic responses, where subjects reporting one to two drinks per day had lower results than those reporting either more or less alcohol use, occurred for triglycerides, glucose, C-reactive protein, alkaline phosphatase and butyrylcholinesterase. Increasing alcohol use was associated with decreasing LDL-C in younger women, but higher LDL-C in older men.
Some markers show threshold relationships with alcohol, others show continuous ones, and a third group show biphasic or U-shaped relationships. Overall the biochemical sequelae of low-to-moderate alcohol use are consistent with the epidemiological evidence on morbidity and mortality.
Alcohol; Biomarkers; Dose-response curve; Population study
Estrogen receptor (ER)-negative tumors represent 20–30% of all breast cancers, with a higher proportion occurring in younger women and women of African ancestry1. The etiology2 and clinical behavior3 of ER-negative tumors are different from those of tumors expressing ER (ER positive), including differences in genetic predisposition4. To identify susceptibility loci specific to ER-negative disease, we combined in a meta-analysis 3 genome-wide association studies of 4,193 ER-negative breast cancer cases and 35,194 controls with a series of 40 follow-up studies (6,514 cases and 41,455 controls), genotyped using a custom Illumina array, iCOGS, developed by the Collaborative Oncological Gene-environment Study (COGS). SNPs at four loci, 1q32.1 (MDM4, P = 2.1 × 10−12 and LGR6, P = 1.4 × 10−8), 2p24.1 (P = 4.6 × 10−8) and 16q12.2 (FTO, P = 4.0 × 10−8), were associated with ER-negative but not ER-positive breast cancer (P > 0.05). These findings provide further evidence for distinct etiological pathways associated with invasive ER-positive and ER-negative breast cancers.
Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) genes (CHRNA5/CHRNA3/CHRNB4) have been reproducibly associated with nicotine dependence, smoking behaviors, and lung cancer risk. Of the few reports that have focused on early smoking behaviors, association results have been mixed. This meta-analysis examines early smoking phenotypes and SNPs in the gene cluster to determine: (1) whether the most robust association signal in this region (rs16969968) for other smoking behaviors is also associated with early behaviors, and/or (2) if additional statistically independent signals are important in early smoking. We focused on two phenotypes: age of tobacco initiation (AOI) and age of first regular tobacco use (AOS). This study included 56,034 subjects (41 groups) spanning nine countries and evaluated five SNPs including rs1948, rs16969968, rs578776, rs588765, and rs684513. Each dataset was analyzed using a centrally generated script. Meta-analyses were conducted from summary statistics. AOS yielded significant associations with SNPs rs578776 (beta = 0.02, P = 0.004), rs1948 (beta = 0.023, P = 0.018), and rs684513 (beta = 0.032, P = 0.017), indicating protective effects. There were no significant associations for the AOI phenotype. Importantly, rs16969968, the most replicated signal in this region for nicotine dependence, cigarettes per day, and cotinine levels, was not associated with AOI (P = 0.59) or AOS (P = 0.92). These results provide important insight into the complexity of smoking behavior phenotypes, and suggest that association signals in the CHRNA5/A3/B4 gene cluster affecting early smoking behaviors may be different from those affecting the mature nicotine dependence phenotype.
CHRNA5; CHRNA3; CHRNB4; meta-analysis; nicotine; smoke
We examine whether regular cigarette smokers were more likely to be exposed to and use cannabis at an earlier age, and further, upon initiation, whether their initial experiences with cannabis varied from those reported by never/non-regular cigarette smokers.
A sample of 3797 Australian twins and siblings aged 21–46 years was used. Survival analyses examined whether cigarette smokers were at increased likelihood of early opportunity to use cannabis and early onset of cannabis use. Logistic regression examined whether cigarette smokers reported greater enjoyment of their cannabis experience, inhaling on the first try, differing positive and negative initial subjective reactions, smoked cigarettes with cannabis the first time and were more likely to try cannabis again within a week.
Regular cigarette smokers were more likely to report an earlier opportunity to use cannabis and early onset of cannabis use. Regular cigarette smokers were also considerably more likely to have enjoyed their first experience with cannabis and reported higher rates of positive initial reactions. They were more likely to report inhaling on the first try and smoking cigarettes with cannabis. Potentially negative subjective reactions were also elevated in regular cigarette smokers. Importantly, cigarette smokers were at 1.87 increased odds of smoking cannabis within a week of their initial use.
These findings indicate that the well-known overlap in cannabis and cigarette smoking behaviors may evolve as early as opportunity to use and extend through the course of the substance use trajectory.
cannabis; cigarette; initial reaction; onset; opportunity
The genetic contribution to liability for opioid dependence is well-established; identification of the responsible genes has proved challenging.
To examine association of 1430 candidate gene single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with heroin dependence, reporting here only the 71 SNPs in the chromosome 11 gene cluster (NCAM1, TTC12, ANKK1, DRD2) that include the strongest observed associations.
Case-control genetic association study that included two control groups (lacking an established optimal control group).
Semi-structured psychiatric interviews
Australian cases (N=1459) ascertained from opioid replacement therapy (ORT) clinics, neighborhood controls (N=531) ascertained from economically disadvantaged areas near opioid replacement therapy clinics, and unrelated Australian Twin Registry (ATR) controls (N=1495) not dependent on alcohol or illicit drugs selected from a twin and family sample.
Main Outcome Measure
Lifetime heroin dependence
Comparison of cases with Australian Twin Registry controls found minimal evidence of association for all chromosome 11 cluster SNPs (p≥.01); a similar comparison to neighborhood controls revealed greater differences (p≥1.8 × 10−4). Comparing cases (N=1459) with the subgroup of neighborhood controls not dependent on illicit drugs (N=340), three SNPs were significantly associated (correcting for multiple testing): ANKK1 SNP rs877138 [most strongly associated; odds ratio 1.59; 95%CI (1.32–1.92); p=9.7 × 10−7], ANKK1 SNP rs4938013 and TTC12 SNP rs7130431. A similar pattern of association was observed when comparing illicit drug-dependent (N=191) and non-dependent (N=340) neighborhood controls, suggesting that liability likely extends to non-opioid illicit drug dependence. Aggregate heroin dependence risk associated with two SNPs, rs877138 and rs4492854 (located in NCAM1), varied more than 4-fold (p= 2.74 × 10−9 for the risk-associated linear trend).
Our results provide further evidence of association for chromosome 11 gene cluster SNPs with substance dependence, including extension of liability to illicit drug dependence. Our findings highlight the necessity of considering drug exposure history when selecting control groups for genetic investigations of illicit drug dependence.