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Open Access Study protocol

A recall-by-genotype study of CHRNA5-A3-B4 genotype, cotinine and smoking topography: study protocol

Jennifer J Ware124*, Nic Timpson12, George Davey Smith12 and Marcus R Munafò134

Author Affiliations

1 MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

2 School of Social and Community Medicine, Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol BS8 2BN, UK

3 School of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, 12a Priory Road, Bristol BS8 1TU, UK

4 UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom

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BMC Medical Genetics 2014, 15:13  doi:10.1186/1471-2350-15-13

Published: 22 January 2014

Abstract

Background

Genome-wide association studies have revealed an association between several loci in the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene cluster CHRNA5-A3-B4 and daily cigarette consumption. Recent studies have sought to refine this phenotype, and have shown that a locus within this cluster, marked primarily by rs1051730 and rs16969968, is also associated with levels of cotinine, the primary metabolite of nicotine. This association remains after adjustment for self-reported smoking, which suggests that even amongst people who smoke the same number of cigarettes there is still genetically-influenced variation in nicotine consumption. This is likely to be due to differences in smoking topography, that is, how a cigarette is smoked (e.g., volume of smoke inhaled per puff, number of puffs taken per cigarette). The aim of this study is to determine potential mediation of the relationship between the rs1051730 locus and cotinine levels by smoking topography.

Methods/Design

Adopting a recall-by-genotype design, we will recruit 200 adults from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children on the basis of minor or major homozygote status at rs1051730 (100 in each genotype group). All participants will be current, daily smokers. Our primary study outcome measures will be measures of smoking topography: total volume of smoke (ml) inhaled per cigarette, total volume of smoke (ml) inhaled over of the course of one day, and salivary cotinine level (ng/ml).

Discussion

This study will extend our understanding of the biological basis of inter-individual variability in heaviness of smoking, and therefore in exposure to smoking-related toxins. The novel recall-by-genotype approach we will use is efficient, maximising statistical power, and enables the collection of extremely precise phenotypic data that are impractical to collect in a larger sample. The methods described within this protocol also hold the potential for wider application in the field of molecular genetics.

Keywords:
Smoking; Cotinine; Genetics; CHRNA3; CHRNA5; Smoking topography