Genetically determined dopamine availability predicts disposition for depression

Brain Behav. 2011 Nov;1(2):109-18. doi: 10.1002/brb3.20.


Although prominent personality theories postulate orthogonality between traits of positive emotionality (PEM) and negative emotionality (NEM), empirical evidence often demonstrates the opposite indicating a negative relationship. Therefore, it is not surprising that dopaminergic (DA) gene loci have been related to traits of positive and of NEM. The present genetic association study investigates the influence of two functional DA gene polymorphisms on Sadness as defined by the Affective Neuroscience Personality Scales (ANPS) in healthy Caucasians (n = 1041). We observed a significant interaction effect between the 10-repeat (10R) allele of the dopamine transporter (DAT1) gene and the methionine (Met) allele of the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met polymorphism (F((1,1018)) = 11.11; P < 0.001). Carriers of the 9R/9R and the Val/Val genotype showed dramatically reduced Sadness scores in comparison to the other three genotype configurations. Both the 9R/9R and the Val/Val genotypes characterized by reduced transporter density and high dopamine catabolism, respectively, have been separately related to personality traits of PEM and externalizing behavior in the past. The present findings indicate that gene variations of the DA system previously associated with PEM are at the same time protective against high NEM and can therefore constitute a resilience factor against depression.