The idea that the liver enzyme cytochrome P450 2A6 (CYP2A6), known also as nicotine C-oxidase, is one of the determinants of smoking addiction and smoking behavior is primarily based on its role in nicotine metabolism and disposition. The results of studies linking the CYP2A6 genetic polymorphism with smoking dependence and smoking behavior however remain controversial. The most likely causes of the controversies appeared to be consideration given to a few allelic variants coupled with the uses of the CYP2A6 alleles lacking in vivo phenotypic validation. In the present review, we summarize research findings on biological significance of CYP2A6 and gene polymorphisms together with a discussion on CYP2A6 inhibitors that hold the promise of uses in smoking cessation. In addition, we provide the phenotype/ genotype information derived from our systematic investigation on the relationship between CYP2A6 genotypes, smoking habits and coumarin metabolism phenotypes in a group of 393 normal adults (197 women and 196 men), 16 to 60 years of age, whose exposure to cadmium and lead were also determined, enabling us to assess the CYP2A6 phenotypic variability associated with CYP2A6 genotypes and environmental exposure. The results indicate that the phenotype of CYP2A6 enzyme in liver is an outcome of interactions between the CYP2A6 gene, cadmium, nicotine and possibly its metabolites.
Keywords: Cytochrome P450 2A6, nicotine C-oxidase, cadmium, smoking, nicotine addiction, genetic polymorphism
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