Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2014 Jul 29. [Epub ahead of print]
Bloom AJ1, Hartz SM, Baker TB, Chen LS, Piper ME, Fox L, Martinez M, Hatsukami D, Johnson EO, Laurie CC, Saccone NL, Goate A, Bierut LJ.
Rationale: The CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 locus is associated with self-reported smoking behavior and also harbors the strongest genetic associations with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. Because the associations with lung disease remain after adjustment for self-reported smoking behaviors, it has been asserted that CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 variants increase COPD and lung cancersusceptibility independently of their effects on smoking.
Objectives: To compare the genetic associations of exhaled carbon monoxide (CO), a biomarker of current cigarette exposure, with self-reported smoking behaviors.
Methods: 1521 European-American and 247 African-American current smokers recruited into smoking cessation studies were assessed for CO at intake before smoking cessation. DNA samples were genotyped using the Illumina Omni2.5 microarray. Genetic associations with CO and smoking behaviors (cigarettes smoked per day, Fagerström test for nicotine dependence) were studied. Measurements and
Main Results: Variants in the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 locus, including rs16969968, a non-synonymous variant in CHRNA5, are GWAS-significantly associated with CO (β=2.66; 95% CI=1.74,3.58; p=1.65x10-8) and this association remains strong after adjusting for smoking behavior (β=2.18; 95% CI=1.32,3.04; p=7.47x10-7). The correlation between CO and cigarettes per day (CPD) is statistically significantly lower (Z=3.43; p=6.07x10-4) in African-Americans (r=0.14; 95% CI=0.02,0.26; p=0.003) than in European-Americans (r=0.36; 95% CI=0.31,0.40; p=0.0001).
Conclusions: Exhaled carbon monoxide, a biomarker that is simple to measure, captures aspects of cigarette smoke exposure in current smokers beyond the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Behavioral measures of smoking are therefore insufficient indices of cigarette smoke exposure, suggesting that genetic associations with COPD or lung cancer that persist after adjusting for self-reported smoking behavior may still reflect genetic effects on smoking exposure.