The study, published in the July 11, 2008 issue of PLoS Genetics, highlights the importance of public health efforts to reduce the number of youth who begin smoking.
These common gene variations, called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), are changes in a single unit of DNA. Scientists call SNPs that are linked and inherited together a haplotype. The researchers found that one haplotype for the nicotine receptor put European American smokers at greater risk of heavy nicotine dependence as adults, but only if they began daily smoking before the age of 17. A second haplotype actually reduced the risk of adult heavy nicotine dependence for people who began smoking in their youth.
The researchers studied 2,827 long-term European American smokers, recruited in Utah and Wisconsin, and to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Lung Health Study. They assessed the level of nicotine dependence for all smokers, and recorded the age they began daily smoking, the number of years they smoked, and the average number of cigarettes smoked per day. DNA samples were taken from all smokers, and the researchers recorded the occurrence of common SNPs, grouped into four haplotypes, which had been identified earlier in a subset of participants.
They found that people who began smoking before the age of 17 and possessed two copies of the high-risk haplotype had from a 1.6-fold to almost 5-fold increase in risk of heavy smoking as an adult. For people who began smoking at age 17 or older, presence of the high-risk haplotype did not significantly influence their risk of later addiction. The high-risk haplotype is common in the three study populations, and European American populations in general, ranging in frequency from 38 percent to 41 percent.
Although the authors caution that different haplotype frequencies would likely be observed in different ethnic populations, Robert Weiss, Ph.D., professor of human genetics at the University of Utah and lead author of the study explains, “We know that people who begin smoking at a young age are more likely to face severe nicotine dependence later in life. This finding suggests that genetic influences expressed during adolescence contribute to the risk of lifetime addiction severity produced from the early onset of tobacco use.”
According to Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “In recent years we’ve seen an explosion in the understanding of how small genetic variations can impact all aspects of health, including addiction. As we learn more about how both genes and environment play a role in smoking, we will be able to better tailor both prevention and cessation programs to individuals.” The study was funded in part by NIDA and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), parts of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The NIDA-funded 2007 Monitoring the Future Study showed that 7.1% of 8th graders, 14.0% of 10th graders, and 21.6% of 12th graders had used cigarettes at least once in the month prior to being surveyed. Although cigarette use has declined slightly in youth in recent years, just over 3 million young people between the ages of 12 and 17, or 13 percent of those in the United States, still smoke cigarettes.
Chris Nelson | Newswise Science News
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22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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