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1.  The DRD4 Exon III VNTR, Bupropion, and Associations With Prospective Abstinence 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2012;15(7):1190-1200.
DRD4 Exon III Variable Number of Tandem Repeat (VNTR) variation was found to interact with bupropion to influence prospective smoking abstinence, in a recently published longitudinal analyses of N = 331 individuals from a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of bupropion and intensive cognitive–behavioral mood management therapy.
We used univariate, multivariate, and longitudinal logistic regression to evaluate gene, treatment, time, and interaction effects on point prevalence and continuous abstinence at end of treatment, 6 months, and 12 months, respectively, in N = 416 European ancestry participants in a double-blind pharmacogenetic efficacy trial randomizing participants to active or placebo bupropion. Participants received 10 weeks of pharmacotherapy and 7 sessions of behavioral therapy, with a target quit date 2 weeks after initiating both therapies. VNTR genotypes were coded with the long allele dominant resulting in 4 analysis categories. Covariates included demographics, dependence measures, depressive symptoms, and genetic ancestry. We also performed genotype-stratified secondary analyses.
We observed significant effects of time in longitudinal analyses of both abstinence outcomes, of treatment in individuals with VNTR long allele genotypes for both abstinence outcomes, and of covariates in some analyses. We observed non-significantly larger differences in active versus placebo effect sizes in individuals with VNTR long allele genotypes than in individuals without the VNTR long allele, in the directions previously reported.
VNTR by treatment interaction differences between these and previous analyses may be attributable to insufficient size of the replication sample. Analyses of multiple randomized clinical trials will enable identification and validation of factors mediating treatment response.
PMCID: PMC3682839  PMID: 23212438
2.  Influence of a Dopamine Pathway Additive Genetic Efficacy Score on Smoking Cessation: Results from Two Randomized Clinical Trials of Bupropion 
Addiction (Abingdon, England)  2013;108(12):10.1111/add.12325.
To evaluate associations of treatment and an ‘additive genetic efficacy score’ (AGES) based on dopamine functional polymorphisms with time to first smoking lapse and point prevalence abstinence at end of treatment among participants enrolled in two randomized clinical trials of smoking cessation therapies.
Double-blind pharmacogenetic efficacy trials randomizing participants to active or placebo bupropion. Study 1 also randomized participants to cognitive-behavioral smoking cessation treatment (CBT) or this treatment with CBT for depression. Study 2 provided standardized behavioural support.
Two Hospital-affiliated clinics (Study 1), and two University-affiliated clinics (Study 2).
N=792 self-identified white treatment-seeking smokers aged ≥18 years smoking ≥10 cigarettes per day over the last year.
Age, gender, Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence, dopamine pathway genotypes (rs1800497 [ANKK1 E713K], rs4680 [COMT V158M], DRD4 exon 3 Variable Number of Tandem Repeats polymorphism [DRD4 VNTR], SLC6A3 3' VNTR) analyzed both separately and as part of an AGES, time to first lapse, and point prevalence abstinence at end of treatment.
Significant associations of the AGES (hazard ratio = 1.10, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] = 1.06–1.14], p=0.0099) and of the DRD4 VNTR (HR = 1.29, 95%CI 1.17–1.41, p=0.0073) were observed with time to first lapse. A significant AGES by pharmacotherapy interaction was observed (β [SE]=−0.18 [0.07], p=0.016), such that AGES predicted risk for time to first lapse only for individuals randomized to placebo.
A score based on functional polymorphisms relating to dopamine pathways appears to predict lapse to smoking following a quit attempt, and the association is mitigated in smokers using bupropion.
PMCID: PMC3834197  PMID: 23941313
Bupropion; genetic; pharmacogenetic analysis; randomized clinical trial; first lapse
3.  Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Variation and Response to Smoking Cessation Therapies 
Pharmacogenetics and genomics  2013;23(2):94-103.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3563676  PMID: 23249876
logistic regression; mediation analysis; nAChR variation; nicotine dependence; pharmacotherapy; randomized clinical trials
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.
PMCID: PMC3558036  PMID: 19494806
dopamine transporter; Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence; single nucleotide polymorphism; candidate gene association scan; gene-gene interaction
5.  DRD1 Associations with Smoking Abstinence Across Slow and Normal Nicotine Metabolizers 
Pharmacogenetics and Genomics  2012;22(7):551-554.
Nicotine metabolism and genetic variation have an impact on nicotine addiction and smoking abstinence, but further research is required. The nicotine metabolite ratio (NMR) is a robust biomarker of nicotine metabolism used to categorize slow and normal nicotine metabolizers (lower 25th quartile cutoff). In two randomized clinical trials of smoking abstinence treatments, we conducted NMR-stratified analyses on smoking abstinence across 13 regions coding for nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and proteins involved in the dopamine reward system. Gene × NMR interaction P-values were adjusted for multiple correlated tests, and we used a Bonferroni-corrected α-level of 0.004 to determine system-wide significance. Three SNPs in DRD1 (rs11746641, rs2168631, rs11749035) had significant interactions (0.001 ≤ adjusted P-values ≤ 0.004), with increased odds of abstinence within slow metabolizers (ORs=3.1–3.5, 95% CI 1.7–6.7). Our findings support the role of DRD1 in nicotine dependence, and identify genetic and nicotine metabolism profiles that may interact to impact nicotine dependence.
PMCID: PMC3376177  PMID: 22495174
Genetic association studies; heterogeneity; smoking abstinence; nicotine metabolism; nicotine metabolite ratio; DRD1
6.  Gender Stratified Gene and Gene–Treatment Interactions in Smoking Cessation 
The pharmacogenomics journal  2011;12(6):521-532.
We conducted gender-stratified analyses on a systems-based candidate gene study of 53 regions involved in nicotinic response and the brain-reward pathway in two randomized clinical trials of smoking cessation treatments (placebo, bupropion, transdermal and nasal spray nicotine replacement therapy). We adjusted P-values for multiple correlated tests, and used a Bonferroni corrected α-level of 5 × 10−4 to determine system-wide significance. Four SNPs (rs12021667, rs12027267, rs6702335, rs12039988; r2>0.98) in erythrocyte membrane protein band 4.1 (EPB41) had a significant male-specific marginal association with smoking abstinence (OR=0.5; 95% CI 0.3–0.6) at end of treatment (adjusted P<6 × 10−5). rs806365 in cannabinoid receptor 1 (CNR1) had a significant male-specific gene-treatment interaction at 6-month follow-up (adjusted P=3.9 × 10−5); within males using nasal spray, rs806365 was associated with a decrease in odds of abstinence (OR=0.04; 95% CI 0.01–0.2). While the role of CNR1 in substance abuse has been well studied, we report EPB41 for the first time in the nicotine literature.
PMCID: PMC3208134  PMID: 21808284
Genetic association studies; heterogeneity; smoking cessation
7.  Association of the Nicotine Metabolite Ratio and CHRNA5/CHRNA3 Polymorphisms With Smoking Rate Among Treatment-Seeking Smokers 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2011;13(6):498-503.
Genome-wide association studies have linked single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the CHRNA5/A3/B4 gene cluster with heaviness of smoking. The nicotine metabolite ratio (NMR), a measure of the rate of nicotine metabolism, is associated with the number of cigarettes per day (CPD) and likelihood of cessation. We tested the potential interacting effects of these two risk factors on CPD.
Pretreatment data from three prior clinical trials were pooled for analysis. One thousand and thirty treatment seekers of European ancestry with genotype data for the CHRNA5/A3/B4 SNPs rs578776 and rs1051730 and complete data for NMR and CPD at pretreatment were included. Data for the third SNP, rs16969968, were available for 677 individuals. Linear regression models estimated the main and interacting effects of genotype and NMR on CPD.
We confirmed independent associations between the NMR and CPD as well as between the SNPs rs16969968 and rs1051730 and CPD. We did not detect a significant interaction between NMR and any of the SNPs examined.
This study demonstrates the additive and independent association of the NMR and SNPs in the CHRNA5/A3/B4 gene cluster with smoking rate in treatment-seeking smokers.
PMCID: PMC3103715  PMID: 21385908
Behavioural pharmacology  2008;19(5-6):630-640.
Genetic variation may influence initial sensitivity to nicotine (i.e. during early tobacco exposure), perhaps helping to explain differential vulnerability to nicotine dependence. This study explored associations of functional candidate gene polymorphisms with initial sensitivity to nicotine in 101 young adult nonsmokers of European ancestry. Nicotine (0, 5, 10 μg/kg) was administered via nasal spray followed by mood, nicotine reward (e.g. “liking”) and perception (e.g. “feel effects”) measures, physiological responses, sensory processing (pre-pulse inhibition of startle), and performance tasks. Nicotine reinforcement was assessed in a separate session using a nicotine vs. placebo spray choice procedure. For the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4 VNTR), presence of the 7 repeat allele was associated with greater aversive responses to nicotine (decreases in “vigor”, positive affect, and rapid information processing; increased cortisol) and reduced nicotine choice. Individuals with at least one DRD4 7-repeat allele also reported increased “feel effects” and greater startle response, but in men only. Also observed in men but not women were other genetic associations, such as greater “feel effects” and anger, and reduced fatigue, in the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2 C957T SNP) TT versus CT or CC genotypes. Very few or no significant associations were seen for the DRD2/ANKK1 TaqIA polymorphism, the serotonin transporter promoter VNTR or 5HTTLPR (SLC6A4), the dopamine transporter 3’ VNTR (SLC6A3), and the mu opioid receptor A118G SNP (OPRM1). Although these results are preliminary, this study is the first to suggest that genetic polymorphisms related to function in the dopamine D4, and perhaps D2, receptor may modulate initial sensitivity to nicotine prior to the onset of dependence and may do so differentially between men and women.
PMCID: PMC2743299  PMID: 18690117
nicotine; sensitivity; genetics; dopamine; reward; reinforcement
Behavioural pharmacology  2008;19(5-6):641-649.
Negative mood increases smoking reinforcement and risk of relapse. We explored associations of gene variants in the dopamine, opioid, and serotonin pathways with smoking reward (“liking”) and reinforcement (latency to first puff, total puffs) as a function of negative mood and expected vs. actual nicotine content of the cigarette. Smokers of European ancestry (n=72) were randomized to one of four groups in a 2 × 2 balanced-placebo design, corresponding to manipulation of actual (0.6 mg vs. 0.05 mg) and expected (told nicotine, told denicotinized) nicotine “dose” in cigarettes during each of two sessions (negative vs. positive mood induction). Following mood induction and expectancy instructions, they sampled and rated the assigned cigarette, and then smoked additional cigarettes ad lib during continued mood induction. The increase in smoking amount due to negative mood was associated with: DRD2 C957T (CC>TT or CT), SLC6A3 (presence of 9 repeat > absence of 9), and among those given a nicotine cigarette, DRD4 (presence of 7 repeat > absence of 7) and DRD2/ANKK1 TaqIA (TT or CT > CC). SLC6A3 and DRD2/ANKK1 TaqIA were also associated with smoking reward and smoking latency. OPRM1 (AA > AG or GG) was associated with smoking reward, but SLC6A4 VNTR was unrelated to any of these measures. These results warrant replication but provide the first evidence for genetic associations with the acute increase in smoking reward and reinforcement due to negative mood.
PMCID: PMC2717609  PMID: 18690118
smoking reward; reinforcement; mood; genetics; dopamine
10.  Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor β2 subunit gene implicated in a systems-based candidate gene study of smoking cessation 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(18):2834-2848.
Although the efficacy of pharmacotherapy for tobacco dependence has been previously demonstrated, there is substantial variability among individuals in treatment response. We performed a systems-based candidate gene study of 1295 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 58 genes within the neuronal nicotinic receptor and dopamine systems to investigate their role in smoking cessation in a bupropion placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial. Putative functional variants were supplemented with tagSNPs within each gene. We used global tests of main effects and treatment interactions, adjusting the P-values for multiple correlated tests. An SNP (rs2072661) in the 3′ UTR region of the β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit (CHRNB2) has an impact on abstinence rates at the end of treatment (adjusted P = 0.01) and after a 6-month follow-up period (adjusted P = 0.0002). This latter P-value is also significant with adjustment for the number of genes tested. Independent of treatment at 6-month follow-up, individuals carrying the minor allele have substantially decreased the odds of quitting (OR = 0.31; 95% CI 0.18–0.55). Effect of estimates indicate that the treatment is more effective for individuals with the wild-type (OR = 2.14, 95% CI 1.20–3.81) compared with individuals carrying the minor allele (OR = 0.83, 95% CI 0.32–2.19), although this difference is only suggestive (P = 0.10). Furthermore, this SNP demonstrated a role in the time to relapse (P = 0.0002) and an impact on withdrawal symptoms at target quit date (TQD) (P = 0.0009). Overall, while our results indicate strong evidence for CHRNB2 in ability to quit smoking, these results require replication in an independent sample.
PMCID: PMC2525499  PMID: 18593715

Results 1-10 (10)