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1.  Chronic psychosocial stressors and salivary biomarkers in emerging adults 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2011;37(8):1158-1170.
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.
PMCID: PMC3774595  PMID: 22172638
Human; Saliva; Gene expression; IL8; qPCR
2.  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
3.  Gene-Centric Analysis of Serum Cotinine Levels in African and European American Populations 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2011;37(4):968-974.
To date, most genetic association studies of tobacco use have been conducted in European American subjects using the phenotype of smoking quantity (cigarettes per day). However, smoking quantity is a very imprecise measure of exposure to tobacco smoke constituents. Analyses of alternate phenotypes and populations may improve our understanding of tobacco addiction genetics. Cotinine is the major metabolite of nicotine, and measuring serum cotinine levels in smokers provides a more objective measure of nicotine dose than smoking quantity. Previous genetic association studies of serum cotinine have focused on individual genes. We conducted a genetic association study of the biomarker in African American (N=365) and European American (N=315) subjects from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study using a chip containing densely-spaced tag SNPs in ∼2100 genes. We found that rs11187065, located in the non-coding region (intron 1) of insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE), was the most strongly associated SNP (p=8.91 × 10−6) in the African American cohort, whereas rs11763963, located on chromosome 7 outside of a gene transcript, was the most strongly associated SNP in European Americans (p=1.53 × 10−6). We then evaluated how the top variant association in each population performed in the other group. We found that the association of rs11187065 in IDE was also associated with the phenotype in European Americans (p=0.044). Our top SNP association in European Americans, rs11763963 was non-polymorphic in our African American sample. It has been previously shown that psychostimulant self-administration is reduced in animals with lower insulin because of interference with dopamine transmission in the brain reward centers. Our finding provides a platform for further investigation of this, or additional mechanisms, involving the relationship between insulin and self-administered nicotine dose.
PMCID: PMC3280653  PMID: 22089314
cotinine; nicotine; IDE; CARDIA; MORF4L1; IMAT-Broad-CARe; behavioral science; neurogenetics; addiction & substance abuse; pharmacogenetics/pharmacogenomics; cotinine; nicotine; IDE; CARDIA; MORF4L1
4.  Varenicline for Smoking Cessation: Nausea Severity and Variation in Nicotinic Receptor Genes 
The Pharmacogenomics Journal  2011;12(4):349-358.
This study evaluated association between common and rare sequence variants in 10 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit genes and the severity of nausea 21 days after initiating the standard, FDA-approved varenicline regimen for smoking cessation. Included in the analysis were 397 participants from a randomized clinical effectiveness trial with complete clinical and DNA resequencing data (mean age = 49.2 years; 68.0% female). Evidence for significant association between common sequence variants in CHRNB2 and nausea severity was obtained after adjusting for age, gender, and correlated tests (all PACT<.05). Individuals with the minor allele of CHRNB2 variants experienced less nausea than did those without the minor allele, consistent with previously reported findings for CHRNB2 and the occurrence of nausea and dizziness as a consequence of first smoking attempt in adolescents, and with the known neurophysiology of nausea. As nausea is the most common reason for discontinuance of varenicline, further pharmacogenetic investigations are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3405554  PMID: 21606948
varenicline; nausea; smoking cessation; adherence
5.  Genetic Association of Recovery from Eating Disorders: The Role of GABA Receptor SNPs 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2011;36(11):2222-2232.
Follow-up studies of eating disorders (EDs) suggest outcomes ranging from recovery to chronic illness or death, but predictors of outcome have not been consistently identified. We tested 5151 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in approximately 350 candidate genes for association with recovery from ED in 1878 women. Initial analyses focused on a strictly defined discovery cohort of women who were over age 25 years, carried a lifetime diagnosis of an ED, and for whom data were available regarding the presence (n=361 ongoing symptoms in the past year, ie, ‘ill') or absence (n=115 no symptoms in the past year, ie, ‘recovered') of ED symptoms. An intronic SNP (rs17536211) in GABRG1 showed the strongest statistical evidence of association (p=4.63 × 10−6, false discovery rate (FDR)=0.021, odds ratio (OR)=0.46). We replicated these findings in a more liberally defined cohort of women age 25 years or younger (n=464 ill, n=107 recovered; p=0.0336, OR=0.68; combined sample p=4.57 × 10−6, FDR=0.0049, OR=0.55). Enrichment analyses revealed that GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) SNPs were over-represented among SNPs associated at p<0.05 in both the discovery (Z=3.64, p=0.0003) and combined cohorts (Z=2.07, p=0.0388). In follow-up phenomic association analyses with a third independent cohort (n=154 ED cases, n=677 controls), rs17536211 was associated with trait anxiety (p=0.049), suggesting a possible mechanism through which this variant may influence ED outcome. These findings could provide new insights into the development of more effective interventions for the most treatment-resistant patients.
PMCID: PMC3176559  PMID: 21750581
GABA; anorexia nervosa; recovery from eating disorders; genetic association; single nucleotide polymorphisms; eating/metabolic disorders; GABA; eating/metabolic disorders; neurogenetics; biological psychiatry; genetic association; anorexia nervosa; recovery from eating disorders; single-nucleotide polymorphisms; phenomic association
6.  A gene expression signature from peripheral whole blood for stage I lung adenocarcinoma 
Affordable early screening in subjects with high risk of lung cancer has great potential to improve survival from this deadly disease. We measured gene expression from lung tissue and peripheral whole blood (PWB) from adenocarcinoma cases and controls to identify dysregulated lung cancer genes that could be tested in blood to improve identification of at-risk patients in the future. Genome-wide mRNA expression analysis was conducted in 153 subjects (73 adenocarcinoma cases, 80 controls) from the Environment And Genetics in Lung cancer Etiology (EAGLE) study using PWB and paired snap-frozen tumor and non-involved lung tissue samples. Analyses were conducted using unpaired t-tests, linear mixed effects and ANOVA models. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) was computed to assess the predictive accuracy of the identified biomarkers. We identified 50 dysregulated genes in stage I adenocarcinoma versus control PWB samples (False Discovery Rate ≤0.1, fold change ≥1.5 or ≤0.66). Among them, eight (TGFBR3, RUNX3, TRGC2, TRGV9, TARP, ACP1, VCAN, and TSTA3) differentiated paired tumor versus non-involved lung tissue samples in stage I cases, suggesting a similar pattern of lung cancer-related changes in PWB and lung tissue. These results were confirmed in two independent gene expression analyses in a blood-based case-control study (n=212) and a tumor-non tumor paired tissue study (n=54). The eight genes discriminated patients with lung cancer from healthy controls with high accuracy (AUC=0.81, 95% CI=0.74–0.87). Our finding suggests the use of gene expression from PWB for the identification of early detection markers of lung cancer in the future.
PMCID: PMC3188352  PMID: 21742797
microarray gene expression; peripheral blood; lung cancer; stage I
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
8.  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.
PMCID: PMC3121219  PMID: 21415033
adolescent; dopamine; genetic association studies; smoking
9.  Association of Candidate Genes with Phenotypic Traits Relevant to Anorexia Nervosa 
European Eating Disorders Review  2011;19(6):487-493.
This analysis is a follow-up to an earlier investigation of 182 genes selected as likely candidate genetic variations conferring susceptibility to anorexia nervosa (AN). As those initial case-control results revealed no statistically significant differences in single nucleotide polymorphisms, herein we investigate alternative phenotypes associated with AN. In 1762 females using regression analyses we examined: (1) lowest illness-related attained body mass index; (2) age at menarche; (3) drive for thinness; (4) body dissatisfaction; (5) trait anxiety; (6) concern over mistakes; and (7) the anticipatory worry and pessimism vs. uninhibited optimism subscale of the harm avoidance scale. After controlling for multiple comparisons, no statistically significant results emerged. Although results must be viewed in the context of limitations of statistical power, the approach illustrates a means of potentially identifying genetic variants conferring susceptibility to AN because less complex phenotypes associated with AN are more proximal to the genotype and may be influenced by fewer genes.
PMCID: PMC3261131  PMID: 21780254
covariates; eating disorders; association studies; personality; genetic
10.  Specific common variants of the obesity-associated FTO gene are not associated with psychological and behavioral eating disorder phenotypes 
Extensive population-based genome-wide association studies have identified an association between the FTO gene and BMI; however, the mechanism of action is still unknown. To determine whether FTO may influence weight regulation through psychological and behavioral factors, seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the FTO gene were genotyped in 1085 individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) and 677 healthy weight controls from the international Price Foundation Genetic Studies of Eating Disorders. Each SNP was tested in association with eating disorder phenotypes and measures that have previously been associated with eating behavior pathology: trait anxiety, harm-avoidance, novelty seeking, impulsivity, obsessionality, compulsivity, and concern over mistakes. After appropriate correction for multiple comparisons, no significant associations between individual FTO gene SNPs and eating disorder phenotypes or related eating behavior pathology were identified in cases or controls. Thus, this study found no evidence that FTO gene variants associated with weight regulation in the general population are associated with eating disorder phenotypes in AN participants or matched controls.
PMCID: PMC3249222  PMID: 21438147

Results 1-10 (10)