Background: Genetic variation accounts for approximately 30% of blood pressure (BP) variability but most of that variability has not been attributed to specific variants. Interactions between genes and BP-associated factors may explain some "missing heritability." Cigarette smoking increases BP after short-term exposure and decreases BP with longer exposure. Gene-smoking interactions have discovered novel BP loci, but the contribution of smoking status and intensity to gene discovery is unknown. Methods: We analyzed gene-smoking intensity interactions for association with systolic BP (SBP) in three subgroups from the Framingham Heart Study: current smokers only (N = 1,057), current and former smokers ("ever smokers," N = 3,374), and all subjects (N = 6,710). We used three smoking intensity variables defined at cutoffs of 10, 15, and 20 cigarettes per day (CPD). We evaluated the 1 degree-of-freedom (df) interaction and 2df joint test using generalized estimating equations. Results: Analysis of current smokers using a CPD cutoff of 10 produced two loci associated with SBP. The rs9399633 minor allele was associated with increased SBP (5 mmHg) in heavy smokers (CPD > 10) but decreased SBP (7 mmHg) in light smokers (CPD ≤ 10). The rs11717948 minor allele was associated with decreased SBP (8 mmHg) in light smokers but decreased SBP (2 mmHg) in heavy smokers. Across all nine analyses, 19 additional loci reached P < 1 × 10-6. Discussion: Analysis of current smokers may have the highest power to detect gene-smoking interactions, despite the reduced sample size. Associations of loci near SASH1 and KLHL6/KLHL24 with SBP may be modulated by tobacco smoking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-488
Number of pages9
JournalGenetic Epidemiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular genetics
  • Gene interactions
  • Smoking


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