The genetics of nicotine dependence

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2006 Apr;8(2):158-64. doi: 10.1007/s11920-006-0016-0.


Despite almost two decades of intensive tobacco-control efforts, approximately 23% of American adults continue to smoke, and 13% are nicotine-dependent. Cigarette smoking is the greatest preventable cause of cancer, accounting for at least 30% of all cancer deaths and 87% of lung cancer deaths. Smoking behavior is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Many years of twin and adoption studies have demonstrated that the heritability of liability for nicotine dependence (ND) is at least 50%. During the past several years, significant efforts have been made to identify susceptibility genes for ND using both genome-wide linkage and association analysis approaches. It is expected that identification of susceptibility genes for ND will allow the development and tailoring of both prevention strategies for individuals at risk and effective treatment programs and medicines for individuals who use tobacco products. This review summarizes the recent progress in genetic studies of ND. As genotyping technology is being improved and well-characterized clinical samples on smoking behavior become available, more and more genes and genetic variants responsible for ND will be identified in the near future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / genetics
  • Receptors, GABA-B / genetics
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / genetics
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / genetics*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, GABA-B
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha4 subunit
  • nicotinic receptor beta2
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase