The additive effect of neurotransmitter genes in pathological gambling

Clin Genet. 2001 Aug;60(2):107-16. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-0004.2001.600204.x.


As access to gambling increases there is a corresponding increase in the frequency of addiction to gambling, known as pathological gambling. Studies have shown that a number of different neurotransmitters are affected in pathological gamblers and that genetic factors play a role. Polymorphisms at 31 different genes involved in dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA and neurotransmitters were genotyped in 139 pathological gamblers and 139 age, race, and sex-matched controls. Multivariate regression analysis was used with the presence or absence of pathological gambling as the dependent variable, and the 31 coded genes as the independent variables. Fifteen genes were included in the regression equation. The most significant were the DRD2, DRD4, DAT1, TPH, ADRA2C, NMDA1, and PS1 genes. The r(2) or fraction of the variance was less than 0.02 for most genes. Dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine genes contributed approximately equally to the risk for pathological gambling. These results indicate that genes influencing a range of brain functions play an additive role as risk factors for pathological gambling. Multi-gene profiles in specific individuals may be of assistance in choosing the appropriate treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gambling*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / genetics*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic / genetics
  • Receptors, Dopamine / genetics
  • Receptors, GABA / genetics
  • Receptors, Serotonin / genetics
  • Substance-Related Disorders


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Adrenergic
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, GABA
  • Receptors, Serotonin