Association of Dopamine Transporter Gene (DAT1) 40 bp 3′ UTR VNTR Polymorphism (rs28363170) and Cannabis Use Disorder


Introduction:

Cannabis remains the most widely used illicit drug among Nigerians, often associated with psychiatric disorders. Since genetic predisposition has been implicated in substance use disorders, we, therefore, aimed at finding out the relationship between dopamine transporter gene (DAT1) polymorphism and cannabis use disorder.


Methods:

We recruited 104 patients from a tertiary psychiatric facility in Lagos, Nigeria, who were diagnosed with cannabis use disorder according to ICD-10 and 96 non-smokers as a comparative group. The smokers were screened with Cannabis Use Disorder Identification Test (CUDIT), and cannabis dependence was assessed with the Severity of Dependence Scale (SDS). Genotyping was carried out for the 40 bp 3′ UTR VNTR of the DAT1 (rs28363170).


Results:

The frequencies of 9R/9R, 9R/10R, 10R/10R among non-smokers and smokers were 14 (14.3%), 25 (26.2%), 57 (59.5%) and 17 (16.3%), 54 (51.9%), 33 (31.7%) respectively. The genotype distribution was in Hardy Weinberg equilibrium (HWE) only in the smokers’ population (χ² = 1.896, P = .166). Individuals with the 10R allele were almost twice as likely as the 9R carriers to smoke cannabis (OR = 1.915, 95% CI: 1.225-2.995). However, this polymorphism was not associated with the quantity of cannabis smoked, age at onset of smoking, CUDIT, and SDS scores.


Conclusion:

The DAT VNTR polymorphism was associated with cannabis smoking but not cannabis use disorder.


Keywords:

Dopamine transporter; VNTR; cannabis smoking; gene polymorphism.

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