Personality traits of agreeableness and extraversion are associated with ADH4 variation

Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Mar 1;61(5):599-608. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.05.017. Epub 2006 Oct 25.


Background: Personality traits are associated with substance dependence (SD); genetic factors may influence both. Strong associations between ADH4 variation and SD have been reported. We aimed to investigate the relationship between ADH4 variation and personality traits in the present study.

Methods: We assessed dimensions of the five-factor model of personality in 243 subjects with SD (175 European Americans [EAs] and 68 African Americans [AAs]) and 296 healthy control subjects (256 EAs and 40 AAs). We also genotyped 7 ADH4 markers (spanning the locus) and 38 unlinked ancestry-informative markers in these subjects. The relationships between the diplotypes, alleles, and genotypes at ADH4 and personality traits were examined using multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA), controlling for potential confounders.

Results: Generally, SD patients, older individuals, and male subjects scored higher on neuroticism and lower on other personality factors. Personality factors were associated with the diplotypes. The allele A or genotype A/A of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)6 (rs1800759 at the gene promoter) was significantly associated with agreeableness scores. There were associations between extraversion and SNP1 (hcv2033010 at the 3' end) and SNP2 (rs1042364 in exon 9) in subjects with higher conscientiousness scores.

Conclusions: The personality traits of agreeableness and extraversion are related to ADH4 polymorphism. Among the ADH4 markers that appear to predispose to certain personality traits, the functional variant rs1800759 (SNP6) in the promoter region is most important. We conclude that personality traits and SD have a partially overlapping genetic basis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Extraversion, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Linkage Disequilibrium*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Personality / genetics*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Substance-Related Disorders / genetics*


  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase