Why do young women smoke VI. A controlled study of nicotine effects on attention: Pharmacogenetic interactions

A. Rigbi, A. Yakir, K. Sarner-Kanyas, Y. Pollak, B. Lerer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In prior studies we found that young, female smokers manifest poorer performance than non-smokers on attention-related tasks and that these findings can be moderated by variation in nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) genes. We predicted that under controlled conditions (1) nicotine would improve functioning on attentional tasks in smokers who previously manifested relatively poor performance, and that (2) smokers who carry genetic variations associated with poorer attention performance would derive greater benefit from nicotine. To test these hypotheses, 31 young female smokers, who participated in our previous study, performed the Matching Familiar Figures Test (MFFT), Tower of London Test and Continuous Performance Task (CPT) in a double-blind, within-between subject design, placebo or nicotine (4 mg as gum) serving as the within factor and genetic profile as the between factor. Repeated measures ANCOVA controlling for attention deficit symptomatology, substance abuse and nicotine dependence showed better performance under nicotine among participants with higher levels of attention deficit symptoms (MFFT errors: P=0.04; CPT commissions: P=0.01) and nicotine dependence (CPT stability of response: P=0.04) and greater consumption of caffeine (CPT stability of response: P=0.04). An interactive effect of genetic profile was demonstrated for SNP rs2337980 in CHRNA7. These findings suggest that nicotine may have stronger short-term facilitating effects on attention in women who have more attention deficit symptoms and consume more nicotine and caffeine. This effect may be modified by a specific genetic make-up. Such individuals may be at increased risk for nicotine addiction and for greater difficulties in smoking cessation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalPharmacogenomics Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • attention
  • nicotine
  • nicotinic acetylcholine receptor genes
  • response-inhibition
  • smoking
  • women


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