Childhood maltreatment, subsequent antisocial behavior, and the role of monoamine oxidase A genotype

Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Oct 1;60(7):677-83. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.12.022.


Background: A functional promoter polymorphism in monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) has been implicated as a moderating factor in the relationship between childhood maltreatment and later adolescent and adult antisocial behavior. Despite wide interest in this hypothesis, results remain mixed from the few attempts at replication.

Methods: Regression-based analyses were conducted to test for a genotype-environment interaction using self-reported physical abuse and MAOA genotype to predict later antisocial behavior and arrests for violence by participants in the National Youth Survey Family Study. We also examined the interaction using a measure of violent victimization. The analysis sample included 277 Caucasian male respondents, aged 11-15 in 1976, who provided buccal swab DNA samples and who were successfully genotyped for the variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) in the MAOA promoter using polymerase chain reaction.

Results: Maltreatment by a parent during adolescence was a risk factor for adolescent and adult antisocial and violence related behavioral problems. Tests for the main effect of MAOA and a MAOA-maltreatment interaction were nonsignificant. Similar results were obtained using the measure of adolescent violent victimization.

Conclusions: Findings from this general population sample could not confirm the hypothesis that MAOA moderates the relationship between adolescent maltreatment and adolescent or adult antisocial behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / enzymology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / genetics*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Behavior / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Monoamine Oxidase / genetics*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Violence / psychology*


  • Monoamine Oxidase