This K23 award advances the Candidate's long term goal of integrating pharmacogenetic and psychiatric genetic approaches in the study of smoking/nicotine dependence (ND) and its co-occurrence with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The proposed training will enable the PI to develop the skills needed for an independent interdisciplinary research career in this field. Risk for smoking behaviors in adolescents, including earlier age of initiation and likelihood of regular smoking, has been associated with both a clinical diagnosis of ADHD and non-clinical levels of ADHD symptoms. Several converging lines of work suggest that the high rates of smoking in the presence of ADHD symptoms may be related to common genetic vulnerabilities that increase risk for both ND and ADHD. In addition, increased risk for smoking in this population may be related to the effects of nicotine and nicotine abstinence on ADHD-related deficits in executive function (EF) and delay discounting (DD). The research plan focuses on elucidating a neurobiological pathway to ND by examining the genetic and cognitive correlates of smoking in adolescents with ADHD. First, secondary analysis of extant genetically-informative samples will be conducted to address gaps in the literature related to 1) the latent genetic, environmental, and gene by environmental influences on the overlap between smoking/ND and ADHD and 2) associations with measured genetic variation related to the neuropharmacology of nicotine (i.e. dopaminergic, nicotinic acetylcholinergic, and nicotine metabolism genes) and the ND/ADHD comorbidity. This work will assist in characterizing phenotypes most relevant to genetic studies of adolescent smoking, especially in the presence of ADHD symptoms, and in selecting measured genes specific to this etiological pathway. Second, new data will be collected using laboratory pharmacology methods to probe the cognitive and genetic mechanisms underlying increased risk for smoking in adolescents with ADHD by assessing the effects of nicotine abstinence on EF and DD in adolescent smokers with and without ADHD. EF and DD performance will be compared in adolescent smokers with (n=32) and without (n=32) ADHD after 24-hour biochemically verified smoking abstinence in the following conditions: 1) placebo patch (nicotine abstinence) and 2) 14 mg nicotine patch (nicotine replacement). DNA will also be collected in order to test the moderating role of genetic variation related to nicotine neuro-pharmacology on EF and DD processes. Results will inform a critical vulnerability for nicotine use in a high risk population, i.e. adolescents with ADHD, and advance the understanding of etiological factors in ND more broadly. This research will lead to subsequent grant applications to further probe genetic and neuropharmacological mechanisms associated with smoking risk in the presence of ADHD as well as clinical projects to develop more effective interventions for ND in this high-risk group. To enable the PI to pursue this long-term research agenda, she will work with experienced mentors to build upon her current expertise in neurocognitive phenotypes of ADHD with five areas of training: (1) nicotine psychopharmacology, 2) laboratory methods in behavioral pharmacology, 3) phenomenology of adolescent smoking, 4) advanced behavioral genetic analytic approaches, and 5) pharmacogenetics of ND. Taken together, the proposed research and training plans address a key priority of integrating genetic and pharmacological methodologies to advance the understanding of etiological and treatment factors in ND, and it will fully prepare the PI for an independent clinical research career in the field.

Public Health Relevance

This project is of considerable public health significance. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US and adolescents with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) start smoking earlier and smoke much more than those without ADHD. This project will improve our understanding of the genetic risk factors for smoking in these adolescents and help identify some of the reasons why adolescents with ADHD smoke more, potentially leading to better prevention and treatment programs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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Human Development Research Subcommittee (NIDA)
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Sirocco, Karen
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Brown University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
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Palmer, Rohan H C; Brick, Leslie; Nugent, Nicole R et al. (2015) Examining the role of common genetic variants on alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and illicit drug dependence: genetics of vulnerability to drug dependence. Addiction 110:530-7
Bidwell, L C; McGeary, J E; Gray, J C et al. (2015) NCAM1-TTC12-ANKK1-DRD2 variants and smoking motives as intermediate phenotypes for nicotine dependence. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 232:1177-86
Hoeppner, Bettina B; Bidwell, L Cinnamon; Colby, Suzanne M et al. (2014) Smoking patterns and their relationship to drinking among first-year college students. Nicotine Tob Res 16:743-52
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Bidwell, L Cinnamon; MacKillop, James; Murphy, James G et al. (2013) Biphasic effects of alcohol on delay and probability discounting. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol 21:214-21