GENETIC STUDY: Dopamine receptor genes (DRD2,DRD3andDRD4) and gene–gene interactions associated with smoking-related behaviors

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Cigarette smoking, like many addictive behaviors, has a genetic component, and the dopamine D2-like receptor genes (DRD2, DRD3 and DRD4) are candidates for contributing to these behaviors. Phenotypic information concerning smoking-related behaviors from a nationally representative sample of research volunteers was analyzed for association with polymorphisms in these genes. Genotype status at the DRD2 intron 2 simple tandem repeat was related to cigarettes per day (P = 0.035) and heaviness of smoking index (P = 0.049). The presence of the glycine allele at the S9G polymorphism of the DRD3 gene was associated with frequency/quantity measures of smoking [log-transformed time to first cigarette (P = 0.031) and heaviness of smoking index (P = 0.035)]. There was a trend for DRD4 long alleles of the variable number of tandem repeats polymorphism to be associated with reduced severity of three withdrawal symptoms [desire/craving (P = 0.054); anger/irritability (P = 0.10); and trouble sleeping (P = 0.068)]. Interactions between genotypes at all three genes were associated with nervousness (P = 0.020) and trouble sleeping (P = 0.015). An interaction between DRD2 and DRD3 was found for trouble concentrating (P = 0.020). These relationships present possible dopamine-related responses to nicotine that warrant further study.

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