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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Genetic and environmental contributions to the relationships between brain structure and average lifetime cigarette use.

  • Author(s): Prom-Wormley, Elizabeth
  • Maes, Hermine HM
  • Schmitt, J Eric
  • Panizzon, Matthew S
  • Xian, Hong
  • Eyler, Lisa T
  • Franz, Carol E
  • Lyons, Michael J
  • Tsuang, Ming T
  • Dale, Anders M
  • Fennema-Notestine, Christine
  • Kremen, William S
  • Neale, Michael C
  • et al.

Chronic cigarette use has been consistently associated with differences in the neuroanatomy of smokers relative to nonsmokers in case-control studies. However, the etiology underlying the relationships between brain structure and cigarette use is unclear. A community-based sample of male twin pairs ages 51-59 (110 monozygotic pairs, 92 dizygotic pairs) was used to determine the extent to which there are common genetic and environmental influences between brain structure and average lifetime cigarette use. Brain structure was measured by high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging, from which subcortical volume and cortical volume, thickness and surface area were derived. Bivariate genetic models were fitted between these measures and average lifetime cigarette use measured as cigarette pack-years. Widespread, negative phenotypic correlations were detected between cigarette pack-years and several cortical as well as subcortical structures. Shared genetic and unique environmental factors contributed to the phenotypic correlations shared between cigarette pack-years and subcortical volume as well as cortical volume and surface area. Brain structures involved in many of the correlations were previously reported to play a role in specific aspects of networks of smoking-related behaviors. These results provide evidence for conducting future research on the etiology of smoking-related behaviors using measures of brain morphology.

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