Dopamine D4 receptor (D4DR) and serotonin transporter promoter (5-HTTLPR) polymorphisms in the determination of temperament in 2-month-old infants

Mol Psychiatry. 1999 Jul;4(4):369-73. doi: 10.1038/


We and others have previously shown that the dopamine D4 exon III repeat (D4DR) and the serotonin-transporter promoter region (5-HTTLPR) polymorphisms are not only associated with adult personality traits1-7 but also with temperament in 2-week-old neonates.8 We now report the results of a second study of these infants and their temperament at 2 months using Rothbart's Infant Behavior Questionnaire (IBQ).9 There were significant negative correlations between neonatal orientation and motor organization as measured by the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS)10 at 2 weeks and negative emotionality, especially distress in daily situations, at 2 months of age. There were significant main effects for negative emotionality and distress when the infants were grouped by the D4DR and the 5-HTTLPR polymorphisms. Infants with long D4DR alleles had significantly lower scores on Negative Emotionality (F[1, 72] = 8.50, P = 0.005) and Distress to Limitations (F[1,72] = 4.93, P = 0.03) than infants with short D4DR alleles. In contrast, infants with the short homozygous (s/s) 5-HTTLPR genotype had higher scores on Negative Emotionality (F[1,72] = 3.88, P = 0.053) and Distress to Limitations (F[1,72] = 4.94, P = 0.029) than infants with the I/s or I/I genotypes. The strongest effects occurred in those infants with the s/s 5-HTTLPR polymorphism who also were lacking long D4DR alleles which in some studies has been linked to adult novelty seeking.1,6 These infants showed most negative emotionality and most distress to daily situations, temperament traits that are perhaps the underpinning of adult neuroticism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Emotions
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / genetics*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Temperament*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • DRD4 protein, human
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4