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Gene variant found to make quitting smoking less likely even when the stakes are high

Myocardial infarction (MI) is a common cause of sickness and death, and smoking is a major risk factor. Despite efforts of hospitals to encourage quitting in those who have had MIs, the majority (50-90%) of patients hospitalized with acute MIs who smoke are still smoking 6 months later.

A new NIDA-funded study of MI patients enrolled in the Translational Research Investigating Underlying disparities in acute Myocardial infarction Patients’ Health status (TRIUMPH) study found associations between smoking status after an MI and a polymorphism of a nicotinic receptor gene, CHRNA5 rs 16969968, in a region of chromosome 15q25. Specifically, patients who had ever smoked and who were admitted to the hospital for acute MI were less likely to be abstinent from smoking when entering the hospital and less likely to be abstinent one year later if they carried the high-risk A allele of CHRNA5 rs16969968 (i.e., AA or GA) than if they carried only the low-risk G allele (i.e., GG). Some previous studies have linked variants in CHRNA5 rs16969968 to smoking cessation failure, but this is the first study to show such a link in a population known to be strongly motivated to quit smoking.

The finding underscores the potential value of personalizing cessation treatment using genetic markers that are able to single out patients who are likely to have particular difficulty quitting.

For a copy of the study abstract, go to:
http://ntr.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/04/11/ntr.ntu059.abstract.

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245.

This page was last updated May 2014

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