Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

A population-based twin study of the genetic and environmental relationship of major depression, regular tobacco use and nicotine dependence

  • A. C. Edwards (a1), H. H. Maes (a2), N. L. Pedersen (a3) and K. S. Kendler (a1) (a2)

Numerous epidemiological studies have reported a positive association between major depression (MD) and regular tobacco use (RU) or nicotine dependence (ND). However, few have used a genetically informative design to assess whether these traits share a common genetic and/or environmental liability.


We assessed MD, RU and ND in same-sex twins from the population-based Swedish Twin Registry. In males, we examined both cigarette use and snus (smokeless tobacco) use. We used structural equation modeling to examine the relationship between MD, RU, and ND given RU.


The results suggest modest correlations between MD and RU, and between MD and ND. In males, the liability shared between MD and RU is solely genetic for both cigarettes and snus, while MD and ND share both genetic and unique environmental influences. The continuation to ND given RU differed considerably between cigarette and snus users. In females, both MD–RU and MD–ND relationships are partially attributable to genetic and unique environmental correlations.


The relationship among MD, RU and ND is at least partially attributable to shared genetic and environmental risk factors. The genetic and environmental correlations between traits are modest. The nature of the shared liability differs by sex, and in males, by the type of tobacco product used. Differences between previous reports and results presented in the current study are suggestive of population differences in how MD and tobacco use inter-relate.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: A. C. Edwards, Ph.D., Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University, PO Box 980126, Richmond, VA23298-0126, USA. (Email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

K Fagerstrom (2005). The nicotine market: an attempt to estimate the nicotine intake from various sources and the total nicotine consumption in some countries. Nicotine and Tobacco Research 7, 343350.

J Ding , FJ Nieto , NJ Beauchamp , WT Longstreth Jr, TA Manolio , JB Hetmanski , LP Fried (2003). A prospective analysis of risk factors for white matter disease in the brain stem: the Cardiovascular Health Study. Neuroepidemiology 22, 275282.

O Klungsoyr , JF Nygard , T Sorensen , I Sandanger (2006). Cigarette smoking and incidence of first depressive episode: an 11-year, population-based follow-up study. American Journal of Epidemiology 163, 421432.

MJ Manley , P de Jonge , TS Kershaw , RA Desai , H Lin , SV Kasl (2009). Association of major depression with subtypes of nicotine dependence found among adult daily smokers: a latent class analysis. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 104, 126132.

JM McCaffery , R Niaura , GE Swan , D Carmelli (2003). A study of depressive symptoms and smoking behavior in adult male twins from the NHLBI twin study. Nicotine and Tobacco Research 5, 7783.

E Sihvola , RJ Rose , DM Dick , L Pulkkinen , M Marttunen , J Kaprio (2008). Early-onset depressive disorders predict the use of addictive substances in adolescence: a prospective study of adolescent Finnish twins. Addiction 103, 20452053.

NL Pedersen , P Lichtenstein , P Svedberg (2002). The Swedish Twin Registry in the third millennium. Twin Research 5, 427432.

JE Schmitt , CA Prescott , CO Gardner , MC Neale , KS Kendler (2005). The differential heritability of regular tobacco use based on method of administration. Twin Research and Human Genetics 8, 6062.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Edwards supplementary material

 Word (74 KB)
74 KB


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 20 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 174 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 28th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.