OCT 24, 2020 9:30 AM PDT

Researchers Identify Two DNA Regions Behind Cannabis Abuse

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Researchers at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified two regions in our DNA that seem to contribute to a person's risk of becoming dependent on cannabis. 

For the study, the researchers analyzed DNA and other data from close to 21,000 people diagnosed with cannabis use disorder alongside that from 360,00 who did not have the diagnosis. 

From their analysis, they found a link between cannabis use disorder and a region of DNA near the FOXP2 gene on chromosome 7. This gene has previously been associated with language development and risk-taking behavior. 

The researchers also found a link between the misuse of cannabis and the CHRNA2 gene on chromosome 8, which had previously been linked to cannabis use disorder in previous studies as well, and to nicotine addiction. 

The researchers say that while up to 20% of those who use cannabis will develop problems with its usage, around 50% of these people are at risk due to their genetics. While these genetic variants alone are not useful in letting someone know about their personal risk for cannabis misuse, the researchers say that knowledge of them may pave the way for treatments of the disorder in the future. 

Alongside these results, using data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCB) Study, the researchers also found that adolescents with higher genetic susceptibility for serious problems with cannabis had a slightly lower volume of white matter in their brain than adolescents with a lower genetic susceptibility. Given that this was the case both before and after cannabis use, these findings suggest that some may be vulnerable to cannabis use disorder well before they are exposed to the substance. 

The researchers also identified behavioral factors linked to problems with cannabis usage. These include excessive risk-taking behavior, schizophrenia, and lower levels of educational attainment. 

"The relationship between education, marijuana use, and problems with marijuana is particularly interesting because genetic predisposition for using the drug is correlated with higher educational attainment, but genetic liability for problematic use is linked to less education" says Emma C. Johnson, first author of the study. 

"Certainly, one has to first use cannabis to develop problems, but the genetic influences on initiating use appear to be somewhat different from the genetic factors that contribute to the development of serious problems. It also is possible that those who use cannabis occasionally but don't develop addiction may be genetically predisposed to other protective influences, such as more years of education."

 

Sources: Medical XpressEl Sevier

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
SEP 05, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Moderate Cannabis Use in Teenagers Reduces Cognitive Abilities
SEP 05, 2020
Moderate Cannabis Use in Teenagers Reduces Cognitive Abilities
From studying adolescent siblings, researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine have found that modera ...
NOV 06, 2020
Health & Medicine
Cannabis Help for Fibromyalgia
NOV 06, 2020
Cannabis Help for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a debilitating condition with a spectrum of symptoms that include pervasive musculoskeletal pain accompa ...
NOV 07, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Does Cannabis Make Bipolar Disorder Better or Worse?
NOV 07, 2020
Does Cannabis Make Bipolar Disorder Better or Worse?
While anecdotal evidence and some case studies suggest cannabis may benefit those with bipolar disorder, studies have re ...
NOV 13, 2020
Health & Medicine
Cannabis Oil May Help Burning Mouth Syndrome
NOV 13, 2020
Cannabis Oil May Help Burning Mouth Syndrome
If you’ve ever scalded the top of your mouth with very hot food or drink you'll know the pain it can cause. No ...
FEB 10, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Lowers Blood Pressure in Older Adults
FEB 10, 2021
Cannabis Lowers Blood Pressure in Older Adults
Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel have found that medical cannabis may reduce blood pr ...
FEB 12, 2021
Neuroscience
How Cannabis Affects Entrepreneurial Skills
FEB 12, 2021
How Cannabis Affects Entrepreneurial Skills
Entrepreneurs are often known for their blue sky thinking, but when idea creation happens by entrepreneurs who are also ...
Loading Comments...