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Interactive effects of DRD2 rs6277 polymorphism, environment and sex on impulsivity in a population-representative study

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Klaus, Kristel 
Vaht, Mariliis 
Pennington, Kyla 
Harro, Jaanus 


Previous research has shown that dopaminergic dysregulation and early life stress interact to impact on aspects of impulse control. This study aimed to explore the potentially interactive effects of the rs6277 polymorphism of the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2), stressful or supportive environment and sex on behavioural and self-reported measures of impulsivity, as well as alcohol use – a condition characterised by a deficit in impulse control. The sample consisted of the younger cohort (n=583) of the longitudinal Estonian Children Personality, Behaviour and Health Study. The results showed that the CC homozygotes (suggested to have decreased striatal D2 receptor availability) who had experienced stressful life events (SLE) or maltreatment in the family prior to age 15 showed higher self-reported maladaptive impulsivity at age 15. The genotype-SLE interaction and further association with sex was also evident in the frequency of alcohol use at age 15. Lack of warmth in the family contributed to significantly higher levels of thoughtlessness and more frequent alcohol use in CC carriers at age 25, whereas family support was associated with lower thoughtlessness scores in CC males, which may suggest a protective effect of supportive family environment in this group. Together the findings suggest that DRD2 rs6277 polymorphism, in interaction with environmental factors experienced in childhood and youth may affect facets of impulsivity. Future work should aim to further clarify the sex and age-specific effects of stressful and supportive environment on the development of neuronal systems that are compromised in disorders characterised by deficits in impulse control.



Receptors, Dopamine D2, Impulsive behaviour, Family relations, Stress, Alcohol

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Behavioural Brain Research

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Medical Research Council (MC_PC_17213)