How genetics shape our addictions: Genes predict the brain's reaction to smoking
Have you ever wondered why some people find it so much easier to stop smoking than others? New research shows that vulnerability to smoking addiction is shaped by our genes.
A study from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital - The Neuro, McGill University shows that people with genetically fast nicotine metabolism have a significantly greater brain response to smoking cues than those with slow nicotine metabolism. Previous research shows that greater reactivity to smoking cues predicts decreased success at smoking cessation and that environmental cues promote increased nicotine intake in animals and humans. This new finding that nicotine metabolism rates affect the brain's response to smoking may lead the way for tailoring smoking cessation programs based on individual genetics.
Smoking cues, such as the sight of cigarettes or smokers, affect smoking behavior and are linked to relapse and cigarette use. Nicotine metabolism, by a liver enzyme, also influences smoking behavior. Variations in the gene that codes for this enzyme determine slow or fast rates of metabolism and therefore, the level of nicotine in the blood that reaches the brain. In the study smokers were screened for their nicotine metabolism rates and their enzyme genotype. Participants were aged 18 – 35 and smoked 5-25 cigarettes daily for a minimum of 2 years. People with the slowest and fastest metabolism had their brain response to visual smoking cues measured using functional MRI. Fast metabolizers had significantly greater response to visual cigarette cues than slow metabolizers in brain areas linked to memory, motivation and reward, namely the amygdala, hippocampus, striatum, insula, and cingulate cortex.
"The finding that nicotine metabolism rate has an impact on the brain's response to smoking cues supports our hypothesis that individuals with fast nicotine metabolism rates would have a greater brain response to smoking cues because of close coupling in everyday life between exposure to cigarettes and surges in blood nicotine concentration. In other words they learn to associate cigarette smoking with the nicotine surge," says clinician-scientist Dr. Alain Dagher, lead investigator at The Neuro. "In contrast, individuals with slow metabolism rates, who have relatively constant nicotine blood levels throughout the day, are less likely to develop conditioned responses to cues. For them, smoking is not associated with brief nicotine surges, so they are smoking for other reasons. Possibilities include maintenance of constant brain nicotine levels for cognitive enhancement (ie, improved attention, memory), or relief of stress or anxiety. "
Future research could focus on improving smoking cessation methods by tailoring treatments for different types of smokers. One possibility is to measure the rate of nicotine metabolism as part of the therapeutic decision-making process. For example, targeting cue-induced relapse risk may not help those with slow nicotine metabolism, who are more likely to benefit from long-acting cholinergic drugs such as the nicotine patch, consistent with previous clinical trials. Conversely the use of non-nicotine based therapies aimed at reducing craving may help fast metabolizers, as demonstrated for buproprion, an anti-depressant that has been used for smoking cessation.
Provided by McGill University
- New findings shed light on why smokers struggle to quit Jan 05, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- New Insight on How Fast Nicotine Peaks in the Brain Mar 08, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Nicotine vaccine prevents nicotine from reaching the brain May 02, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Do 'light' cigarettes deliver less nicotine to the brain than regular cigarettes? Sep 28, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Gene combination increases risk of lung cancer, particularly in light smokers, study finds Aug 17, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Northwestern University scientists have shown a gene involved in neurodegenerative disease also plays a critical role in the proper function of the circadian clock.
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
Informed consent is the backbone of patient care. Genetic testing has long required patient consent and patients have had a "right not to know" the results. However, as 21st century medicine now begins to use the tools of ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 3 |
Ethicists provide framework supporting new recommendations on reporting incidental findings in gene sequencing
In a paper published in Science Express, a group of experts led by bioethicists in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine provide a framework for the new American College of Medical Geneti ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
The use of genome-wide analysis (GWA), where the entirety of an individual's DNA is examined to look for the genomic mutations or variants which can cause health problems is a massively useful technology for diagnosing disease. ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
DNA databases might help identify victims of crime and human trafficking, but how do we safeguard the personal privacy of innocent victims and family members? A new report online May 15 in the Cell Press journal Trends in ...
Genetics May 15, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Big names in medicine are set to give an upbeat assessment of the war on AIDS on Tuesday, 30 years after French researchers identified the virus that causes the disease.
5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
For combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, 'fear circuitry' in the brain never rests
Chronic trauma can inflict lasting damage to brain regions associated with fear and anxiety. Previous imaging studies of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, have shown that these brain regions can over-or ...
6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—What if the quality of your work depends more on your focus on the piano keys or canvas or laptop than your musical or painting or computing skills? If target users can be convinced, they ...
18 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
The neural machinery underlying our olfactory sense continues to be an enigma for neuroscience. A recent review in Neuron seeks to expand traditional ideas about how neurons in the olfactory bulb might encode information about ...
17 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
In 2008 researchers from the University of Southern Denmark showed that the drug thioridazine, which has previously been used to treat schizophrenia, is also a powerful weapon against antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as ...
15 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Treatment for alcohol use disorders works best if the patient actively understands and incorporates the interventions provided in the clinic. Multiple factors can influence both the type and degree of neurocognitive abnormalities ...
15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |