Effects of DRD4 and 5-HTTLPR length polymorphisms have been reported on neonatal and infant temperament as well as adult personality traits. The 7-repeat form of the DRD4 III exon VNTR polymorphism has been associated with childhood ADHD, and recently we have reported its link with attachment disorganization in a nonclinical population of infants. Here, we report associations of these polymorphisms with infant temperament at 12 months of age. Maternal accounts of temperament and observed response to novelty were investigated for 90 infants, who were independently genotyped for the DRD4 III exon, and for 5-HTT-linked promoter region length polymorphisms. Maternal rating of temperament was not affected by these polymorphisms, but we found combined genotype effects for infants' observed responses to a novel, anxiety-provoking stimulus: the appearance of, and approach by, a stranger. Infants with at least one copy of both the 7-repeat DRD4 allele and the long variant of 5-HTTLPR (7+, I/I&I/s) responded with significantly less anxiety than infants with other genotypes. However, infants with the 7-repeat DRD4 allele and homozygous for the short form of 5-HTTLPR (7+, s/s) showed more anxiety and resistance to the stranger's initiation of interaction. These genotype effects were not redundant with the previously reported association between the 7-repeat DRD4 allele and disorganized attachment behavior. Although both temperament and attachment behavior were affected by the DRD4 repeat polymorphism, the effect on temperament measures was modified by the infants' 5-HTTLPR genotype.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience