BACKGROUND - Alcohol and tobacco use are heritable phenotypes. However, only a small number of common genetic variants have been identified, and common variants account for a modest proportion of the heritability. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the role of low-frequency and rare variants in alcohol and tobacco use.
METHODS - We meta-analyzed ExomeChip association results from eight discovery cohorts and included 12,466 subjects and 7432 smokers in the analysis of alcohol consumption and tobacco use, respectively. The ExomeChip interrogates low-frequency and rare exonic variants, and in addition a small pool of common variants. We investigated top variants in an independent sample in which ICD-9 diagnoses of "alcoholism" (N = 25,508) and "tobacco use disorder" (N = 27,068) had been assessed. In addition to the single variant analysis, we performed gene-based, polygenic risk score (PRS), and pathway analyses.
RESULTS - The meta-analysis did not yield exome-wide significant results. When we jointly analyzed our top results with the independent sample, no low-frequency or rare variants reached significance for alcohol consumption or tobacco use. However, two common variants that were present on the ExomeChip, rs16969968 (p = 2.39 × 10) and rs8034191 (p = 6.31 × 10) located in CHRNA5 and AGPHD1 at 15q25.1, showed evidence for association with tobacco use.
DISCUSSION - Low-frequency and rare exonic variants with large effects do not play a major role in alcohol and tobacco use, nor does the aggregate effect of ExomeChip variants. However, our results confirmed the role of the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 cluster of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit genes in tobacco use.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.