An Adolescent Substance Prevention Model Blocks the Effect of CHRNA5 Genotype on Smoking During High School

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Prevention intervention programs reduce substance use, including smoking, but not all individuals respond. We tested whether response to a substance use prevention/intervention program varies based upon a set of five markers (rs16969968, rs1948, rs578776, rs588765, and rs684513) within the cluster of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit genes (CHRNA5/A3/B4).


Participants (N = 424) were randomly assigned to either control condition, or a family-based intervention in grade 6 and a school-based drug preventive intervention in grade 7. Smoking in the past month was assessed in grades 9–12 using a four-point scale (0 = never smoked, 1 = smoked but not in last month, 2 = one or a few times, 3 = about once a week or more).


There was a main effect of both the intervention (b = −0.24, P < .05) and genotype at rs16969968 (b = 0.14, P < .05) on high school smoking. Using dummy coding to allow for nonlinear effects, individuals with the A/A genotype smoked more often than those with G/G (b = 0.33, P < .05). A genotype × intervention effect was found with reduced smoking among those with A/A and G/A genotypes to levels similar to those with the G/G genotype (G/G vs. A/A: b = −0.67, P < .05; A/G vs. A/A: b = −0.61, P < .05; G/G vs. A/G ns). Results were nonsignificant for the other four markers.


Preventive interventions can reduce the genetic risk for smoking from rs16969968.

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