Salivary Biomarkers, Life Stress, and Nicotine Dependence | SRI International

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Salivary Biomarkers, Life Stress & Nicotine Dependence

Researchers are examining links between stress and susceptibility to nicotine dependence to support development of a saliva screen to detect the biological indicators of chronic stressor exposure.

This project has the potential to advance drug abuse prevention and intervention research through identifying Genetic x Environment (GxE) interactions, which may help to explain the success or failure of interventions designed to prevent the initiation of tobacco use and the progression to nicotine dependence, or to maintain cessation. Results may guide the selection of tailored interventions for specific individuals.

SRI researchers are examining links between stress and susceptibility to nicotine dependence to support development of a saliva screen to detect biomarkers (i.e., the biological indicators) of chronic stressor exposure. The study may also advance overall drug abuse prevention and intervention research.

The researchers are using an interview-based life stress assessment to measure chronic and episodic stressor exposure. The researchers are taking initial steps toward defining salivary biomarkers identifying individuals who have been exposed to chronic stressors.

The project also has the potential to advance drug abuse prevention and intervention research through identifying Genetic x Environment (GxE) interactions that may help to explain the success or failure of interventions designed to prevent the initiation of tobacco use and the progression to nicotine dependence or to maintain cessation.

In research subjects aged 20 and 21, saliva is being analyzed for genome-wide gene expression and for specific variants of genes known to be related to the stress response and reward pathways. Those measurements are then correlated with an assessment of chronic and episodic stressor exposure.

These data will be integrated with information from an ongoing longitudinal study examining the sequence of events in substance use, including nicotine dependence. The measurements will also be combined with data assessing cortisol reactivity, which is a biomarker that indicates vulnerability to stress-related illness.