Background: The high prevalence of tobacco use in some developing nations, including Bangladesh, poses several public health challenges for these populations. Smoking behaviour is determined by genetic and environmental factors; however, the genetic determinants of smoking behaviour have not been previously examined in a Bangladeshi or South Asian population. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of tobacco smoking behaviour among a population-based sample of 5354 (2035 ever smokers and 3319 never smokers) men and women in Bangladesh.
Methods: Genome-wide association analyses were conducted for smoking initiation (ever vs never smokers), smoking quantity (cigarettes per day), age of smoking initiation, and smoking cessation (former vs current smokers). Sex-stratified associations were performed for smoking initiation.
Results: We observed associations for smoking initiation in the SLC39A11 region at 17q21.31 (rs2567519, p=1.33×10⁻⁷) among men and in the SLCO3A1 region at 15q26 (rs12912184, p=9.32×10⁻⁸) among women.
Conclusions: These findings suggest possible underlying mechanisms related to solute carrier transporter genes, which transport neurotransmitters, nutrients, heavy metals and other substrates into cells, for smoking initiation in a South Asian population in a sex-specific pattern. Genetic markers could have potential translational implications for the prevention or treatment of tobacco use and addiction in South Asian populations and warrant further exploration.