Cannabis Dependence: Genetic Factors Identified

HealthDay News — Specific cannabis dependence risk alleles have been identified, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Richard Sherva, PhD, from the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a genome-wide association study for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV cannabis dependence criterion count in 3 independent substance dependence cohorts. Data were included for 6000 African-American and 8754 European-American participants.

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The researchers identified 3 independent regions with genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism associations. These were rs143244591 in the novel antisense transcript RP11-206M11.7, rs146091982 in the solute carrier family 35 member G1 gene, and rs77378271 in the CUB and Sushi multiple domains 1 gene. 

There was evidence of genome-level pleiotropy between cannabis dependence and major depressive disorder and for a correlation with single nucleotide polymorphisms in schizophrenia risk-linked genes.

“These results are the first, to our knowledge, to identify specific cannabis dependence risk alleles and potential genetic factors contributing to the comorbidity of cannabis dependence with major depression and schizophrenia,” the authors wrote.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


Sherva R, Wang Q, Kranzler H, et al. Genome-wide Association Study of Cannabis Dependence Severity, Novel Risk Variants, and Shared Genetic Risks. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.0036.