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NIDA. (2015, February 4). Genetics influence response to prevention intervention. Retrieved from

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Science Highlight

February 04, 2015
Illustration of a cigaretter with a hook in it and a DNA molecule superimposedPhoto by © Milkina

Interaction of Polygenic Smoking Risk and Benefit from a Classroom Prevention Intervention

Substantial evidence has demonstrated that a person’s genetics influences his or her risk for smoking initiation, addiction, and difficulty quitting. Recent research has identified multiple genes associated with these variables. A new NIDA-funded study examined whether an individual’s collective gene-based sensitivity to the reinforcing aspects of nicotine (or his/her polygenic score) had an impact on how much he or she benefited from an elementary-school-based prevention intervention, as assessed by age of smoking initiation. The researchers found that a sample of young adults who had received the intervention reported starting smoking at a significantly later age than a control group who had not received it; the difference between the intervention and control participants was greatest among those with the highest polygenic score, meaning those with the lowest inherited risk for tobacco use and addiction. This interaction effect suggests that advantageous genetic variants may be optimally realized in an enriched environment provided by a prevention intervention.


Polygenic Score x Intervention Moderation: An Application of Discrete-Time Survival Analysis to Modeling the Timing of First Tobacco Use Among Urban Youth; Rashelle J. Musci, Katherine E. Masyn, George Uhl, Brion Maher, Sheppard G. Kellam, & Nicholas S. Ialongo; Dev Psychopathol. 2015 Feb;27(1):111-22. Abstract