Studying the Utility of Using Genetics to Predict Smoking-Related Outcomes in a Population-Based Study and a Selected Cohort

Michael J. Bray, Li Shiun Chen, Louis Fox, Yinjiao Ma, Richard A. Grucza, Sarah M. Hartz, Robert C. Culverhouse, Nancy L. Saccone, Dana B. Hancock, Eric O. Johnson, James D. McKay, Timothy B. Baker, Laura J. Bierut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: The purpose of this study is to examine the predictive utility of polygenic risk scores (PRSs) for smoking behaviors. Aims and Methods: Using summary statistics from the Sequencing Consortium of Alcohol and Nicotine use consortium, we generated PRSs of ever smoking, age of smoking initiation, cigarettes smoked per day, and smoking cessation for participants in the population-based Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study (N = 8638), and the Collaborative Genetic Study of Nicotine Dependence (COGEND) (N = 1935). The outcomes were ever smoking, age of smoking initiation, heaviness of smoking, and smoking cessation. Results: In the European ancestry cohorts, each PRS was significantly associated with the corresponding smoking behavior outcome. In the ARIC cohort, the PRS z-score for ever smoking predicted smoking (odds ratio [OR]: 1.37; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.31, 1.43); the PRS z-score for age of smoking initiation was associated with age of smoking initiation (OR: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.82, 0.92); the PRS z-score for cigarettes per day was associated with heavier smoking (OR: 1.17; 95% CI: 1.11, 1.25); and the PRS z-score for smoking cessation predicted successful cessation (OR: 1.24; 95% CI: 1.17, 1.32). In the African ancestry cohort, the PRSs did not predict smoking behaviors. Conclusions: Smoking-related PRSs were associated with smoking-related behaviors in European ancestry populations.This improvement in prediction is greatest in the lowest and highest genetic risk categories.The lack of prediction in African ancestry populations highlights the urgent need to increase diversity in research so that scientific advances can be applied to populations other than those of European ancestry. Implications: This study shows that including both genetic ancestry and PRSs in a single model increases the ability to predict smoking behaviors compared with the model including only demographic characteristics.This finding is observed for every smoking-related outcome. Even though adding genetics is more predictive, the demographics alone confer substantial and meaningful predictive power. However, with increasing work in PRSs, the predictive ability will continue to improve.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2110-2116
Number of pages7
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


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