Human longevity and personality traits are both heritable and are consistently linked at the phenotypic level. We test the hypothesis that candidate genes influencing longevity in lower organisms are associated with variance in the five major dimensions of human personality (measured by the NEO-FFI and IPIP inventories) plus related mood states of anxiety and depression. Seventy single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in six brain expressed, longevity candidate genes (AFG3L2, FRAP1, MAT1A, MAT2A, SYNJ1, and SYNJ2) were typed in over 1,000 70-year old participants from the Lothian Birth Cohort of 1936 (LBC1936). No SNPs were associated with the personality and psychological distress traits at a Bonferroni corrected level of significance (P < 0.0002), but there was an over-representation of nominally significant (P < 0.05) SNPs in the synaptojanin-2 (SYNJ2) gene associated with agreeableness and symptoms of depression. Eight SNPs which showed nominally significant association across personality measurement instruments were tested in an extremely large replication sample of 17,106 participants. SNP rs350292, in SYNJ2, was significant: the minor allele was associated with an average decrease in NEO agreeableness scale scores of 0.25 points, and 0.67 points in the restricted analysis of elderly cohorts (most aged >60 years). Because we selected a specific set of longevity genes based on functional genomics findings, further research on other longevity gene candidates is warranted to discover whether they are relevant candidates for personality and psychological distress traits.
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