A genetic basis for the variable effect of smoking/nicotine on Parkinson's disease

Pharmacogenomics J. 2013 Dec;13(6):530-7. doi: 10.1038/tpj.2012.38. Epub 2012 Oct 2.


Prior studies have established an inverse association between cigarette smoking and the risk of developing Parkinson's disease (PD), and currently, the disease-modifying potential of the nicotine patch is being tested in clinical trials. To identify genes that interact with the effect of smoking/nicotine, we conducted genome-wide interaction studies in humans and in Drosophila. We identified SV2C, which encodes a synaptic-vesicle protein in PD-vulnerable substantia nigra (P=1 × 10(-7) for gene-smoking interaction on PD risk), and CG14691, which is predicted to encode a synaptic-vesicle protein in Drosophila (P=2 × 10(-11) for nicotine-paraquat interaction on gene expression). SV2C is biologically plausible because nicotine enhances the release of dopamine through synaptic vesicles, and PD is caused by the depletion of dopamine. Effect of smoking on PD varied by SV2C genotype from protective to neutral to harmful (P=5 × 10(-10)). Taken together, cross-validating evidence from humans and Drosophila suggests SV2C is involved in PD pathogenesis and it might be a useful marker for pharmacogenomics studies involving nicotine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Drosophila
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Nicotine / adverse effects*
  • Parkinson Disease / etiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Smoking / adverse effects*


  • Nicotine
  • Dopamine