Background: Many genetic and environmental factors are involved in the etiology of nicotine dependence. Although several candidate gene variations have been reported by candidate gene studies or genome-wide association studies (GWASs) to be associated with smoking behavior and the vulnerability to nicotine dependence, such studies have been mostly conducted with subjects with European ancestry. However, genetic factors have rarely been investigated for the Japanese population as GWASs. To elucidate genetic factors involved in nicotine dependence in Japanese, the present study comprehensively explored genetic contributors to nicotine dependence by using whole-genome genotyping arrays with more than 200,000 markers in Japanese subjects. Results: The subjects for the GWAS and replication study were 148 and 374 patients, respectively. A two-stage GWAS was conducted using the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND), Tobacco Dependence Screener (TDS), and number of cigarettes smoked per day (CPD) as indices of nicotine dependence. For the additional association analyses, patients who underwent major abdominal surgery, patients with methamphetamine dependence/psychosis, and healthy subjects with schizotypal personality trait data were recruited. Autopsy specimens with various diseases were also evaluated. After the study of associations between more than 200,000 marker single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and the FTND, TDS, and CPD, the nonsynonymous rs2653349 SNP (located on the gene that encodes orexin [hypocretin] receptor 2) was selected as the most notable SNP associated with FTND, with a p value of 0.0005921 in the two-stage GWAS. This possible association was replicated for the remaining 374 samples. This SNP was also associated with postoperative pain, the initiation of methamphetamine use, schizotypal personality traits, and susceptibility to goiter. Conclusions: Although the p value did not reach a conventional genome-wide level of significance in our two-stage GWAS, we obtained significant results in the subsequent analyses that suggest that the rs2653349 SNP (Val308Ile) could be a genetic factor that is related to nicotine dependence and possibly pain, schizotypal personality traits, and goiter in the Japanese population.
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