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Keywords:

  • Addiction;
  • cocaine;
  • gender;
  • genetics;
  • opioids;
  • PDYN

Genetic factors are believed to account for 30–50% of the risk for cocaine and heroin addiction. Dynorphin peptides, derived from the prodynorphin (PDYN) precursor, bind to opioid receptors, preferentially the kappa-opioid receptor, and may mediate the aversive effects of drugs of abuse. Dynorphin peptides produce place aversion in animals and produce dysphoria in humans. Cocaine and heroin have both been shown to increase expression of PDYN in brain regions relevant for drug reward and use. Polymorphisms in PDYN are therefore hypothesized to increase risk for addiction to drugs of abuse. In this study, 3 polymorphisms in PDYN (rs1022563, rs910080 and rs1997794) were genotyped in opioid-addicted [248 African Americans (AAs) and 1040 European Americans (EAs)], cocaine-addicted (1248 AAs and 336 EAs) and control individuals (674 AAs and 656 EAs). Sex-specific analyses were also performed as a previous study identified PDYN polymorphisms to be more significantly associated with female opioid addicts. We found rs1022563 to be significantly associated with opioid addiction in EAs [P = 0.03, odds ratio (OR) = 1.31; false discovery rate (FDR) corrected q-value]; however, when we performed female-specific association analyses, the OR increased from 1.31 to 1.51. Increased ORs were observed for rs910080 and rs199774 in female opioid addicts also in EAs. No statistically significant associations were observed with cocaine or opioid addiction in AAs. These data show that polymorphisms in PDYN are associated with opioid addiction in EAs and provide further evidence that these risk variants may be more relevant in females.