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Gene Variants Associated with Smoking Response

Some patients may find nicotine sprays work better than patches when trying to quit

TUESDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Certain variants of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene are associated with a greater sensitivity to smoking, including heart pounding, dizziness and experiencing a "rush" or "high," according to a report in the September issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. In addition, patients with such variants may respond better to faster-acting types of smoking cessation treatments, such as nicotine sprays.

Kent E. Hutchison, Ph.D., from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and colleagues identified two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (rs2236196 and rs6122429) in the gene encoding the alpha-4 subunit of the neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (CHRNA4) based on gene expression and binding to postmortem brain tissue.

In a study of 316 smokers, the researchers found that subjects with the TC genotype at rs2236196 were more likely to have heart pounding, dizziness, and reward after smoking. In a clinical trial of a nicotine patch and a nicotine spray in 353 smokers, they found those with the TC genotype were more likely to quit while using nicotine nasal sprays than a patch.

"Therefore, for individuals with the TC genotype, forms of nicotine replacement that reach the central nervous system more quickly (e.g., nicotine gum, nasal spray, and inhaler lozenge) may more closely mimic their experience of cigarette smoking and be more useful as a cessation aid than transdermal nicotine patch," Hutchison and colleagues conclude.

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