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Genetics of Tobacco Use

By Nancy Nairi Maserejian and Athanasios I Zavras


The worldwide prevalence of tobacco use is widespread, resulting in nearly 4.5 million deaths every year. Nicotine is addictive and has psychopharmacological effects that maintain the use of tobacco products. Several studies have documented a strong hereditary component to tobacco use. The present article reviews results from twin and adoption studies and proceeds to present association studies of specific genes that may be involved in tobacco use. Cholinergic receptor nicotinic beta polypeptide 2, serotonin receptor and transporter genes, dopamine receptor and transporter genes, and the cytochrome P450A6 gene are reviewed. Linkage studies help to identify regions of the genome that may be worth further investigation. The paper concludes with a discussion of the limitations of genetic research and the future of genetic epidemiology in this domain

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