Schizophrenia, smoking and the alpha 7 nicotinic receptor gene

G. McCarthy, R. D. Sanders, M. Gray, L. A. Jones, A. Cardno, K. Murphy, M. Rees, N. M. Williams, N. Norton, P. Holmans, M. J. Owen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Smoking occurs at higher rates than other types of substance abuse or dependence amongst individuals with schizophrenia. The frequency of smoking for schizophrenia is higher than for persons in the normal population and higher than the rate for psychiatric patients in general. This observation extends across many countries and cultures (e.g., the United States, Ireland, Chile, and others). The prevalence of smoking among schizophrenics is between 70-80%, rising higher for inpatient status, al-most three times the prevalence found in a normal population. Such increased prevalence may be due to selfmedication as nicotine transiently improves sensory gating, thought to be one of the major cognitive deficiencies in schizophrenia. Defects in sensory gating as indexed by the P50 evoked potential have been linked to a dinucleotide polymorphism at 15q13-q14 with a lod score of 5.3 with zero recombination [Freedman et al., 1997]. The objective of this study was to explore the relationship between smoking behaviour and D15S1360, a dinucleotide repeat 120 Kbp from exon 1 of CHRNA7, in a sample of 102 probands meeting narrow criteria (DSM-IV schizophrenia or schizoaffective depression). No association between D15S1360 and smoking behaviour was found. Implications of this finding are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics - Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 6 1998


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Cite this

McCarthy, G., Sanders, R. D., Gray, M., Jones, L. A., Cardno, A., Murphy, K., Rees, M., Williams, N. M., Norton, N., Holmans, P., & Owen, M. J. (1998). Schizophrenia, smoking and the alpha 7 nicotinic receptor gene. American Journal of Medical Genetics - Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 81(6).