Results from a recent study by London psychiatrists, published in Biological Psychiatry, suggest that marijuana smokers of a certain genotype may find themselves at a higher risk of cannabis-related psychosis.
The researchers conducted a case-control study of 489 first-episode psychosis patients and 278 control subjects looking at variation at the rs2494732 SNP in the gene AKT1 and how it might be associated with cannabis-associated psychosis.
"We found that cannabis users who carry a particular variant in the AKT1 gene had a two-fold increased probability of a psychotic disorder and this increased up to seven-fold if they used cannabis daily," the study authors say in an announcement highlighting the report.
According to the group the results “help to explain why one cannabis user develops psychosis while his friends continue smoking without problems.”
But don't run out to get tested for the SNP yet. Because neurological and psychiatric diseases like psychosis are highly genetically heterogeneous and complex, the AKT1 variant alone won’t make a good test for psychosis risk in marijuana users, according to the researchers.
Research to find additional mutations implicated in the disorder and study of the pathways influenced by AKT1 may reveal more, or suggest novel treatment options.