Additive effects of serotonergic and dopaminergic polymorphisms on trait impulsivity

Gabor Varga, Anna Szekely, Peter Antal, Peter Sarkozy, Zsofia Nemoda, Zsolt Demetrovics, Maria Sasvari-Szekely

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Twin studies suggest 45% heritability of trait impulsivity. Results from candidate gene studies to date are contradictory; impulsivity phenotypes were measured by different behavioral and questionnaire methods related either to the dopaminergic or to the serotonergic system. Here we report an association study of both dopaminergic (COMT rs4680, DRD4 48bp VNTR, DRD2/ANKK1 rs1800497) and serotonergic (HTR1A rs6925, HTR1B rs13212041, SLC6A4 5-HTTLPR) gene polymorphisms and trait impulsivity assessed with the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11) in a sample of 687 Caucasian young adults. Results showed lower impulsivity in the presence of the DRD4 7-repeat (P=0.006) and the HTR1B rs13212041 alleles (P=0.003). These findings stayed significant after Bonferroni correction. A multivariate analysis using Bayesian networks confirmed independent effects of these two polymorphisms and provided a coherent characterization of the system of dependencies with respect to the impulsivity construct as well as its subscales. These results clearly suggest an additive effect of dopaminergic and serotonergic polymorphisms on trait impulsivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-288
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Volume159 B
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2012



  • Dopamine D4 receptor
  • HTR1B
  • Impulsivity trait
  • Individual differences
  • Serotonin receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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