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Original article
Genome-wide association study of smoking behaviours among Bangladeshi adults
  1. Maria Argos1,
  2. Lin Tong1,
  3. Brandon L Pierce1,
  4. Muhammad Rakibuz-Zaman2,
  5. Alauddin Ahmed2,
  6. Tariqul Islam2,
  7. Mahfuzar Rahman2,
  8. Rachelle Paul-Brutus1,
  9. Ronald Rahaman1,
  10. Shantanu Roy1,
  11. Farzana Jasmine1,
  12. Muhammad G Kibriya1,
  13. Habibul Ahsan1,3
  1. 1Department of Health Studies, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  2. 2U Chicago Research Bangladesh (URB), Ltd., Dhaka, Bangladesh
  3. 3Departments of Medicine and Human Genetics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Habibul Ahsan, The University of Chicago, Department of Health Studies, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, MC2007, Chicago, IL 60637, USA; habib{at}


Background The high prevalence of tobacco use in some developing nations, including Bangladesh, poses several public health challenges for these populations. Smoking behaviour is determined by genetic and environmental factors; however, the genetic determinants of smoking behaviour have not been previously examined in a Bangladeshi or South Asian population. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of tobacco smoking behaviour among a population-based sample of 5354 (2035 ever smokers and 3319 never smokers) men and women in Bangladesh.

Methods Genome-wide association analyses were conducted for smoking initiation (ever vs never smokers), smoking quantity (cigarettes per day), age of smoking initiation, and smoking cessation (former vs current smokers). Sex-stratified associations were performed for smoking initiation.

Results We observed associations for smoking initiation in the SLC39A11 region at 17q21.31 (rs2567519, p=1.33×10−7) among men and in the SLCO3A1 region at 15q26 (rs12912184, p=9.32×10−8) among women.

Conclusions These findings suggest possible underlying mechanisms related to solute carrier transporter genes, which transport neurotransmitters, nutrients, heavy metals and other substrates into cells, for smoking initiation in a South Asian population in a sex-specific pattern. Genetic markers could have potential translational implications for the prevention or treatment of tobacco use and addiction in South Asian populations and warrant further exploration.

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