The -521 C/T variant in the dopamine-4-receptor gene (DRD4) is associated with skiing and snowboarding behavior

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013 Mar;23(2):e108-13. doi: 10.1111/sms.12031. Epub 2012 Dec 17.


Sensation seeking is the tendency to seek out new and thrilling experiences and to take risks for the sake of such experiences. A single-nucleotide polymorphism, -521 C/T (rs1800955) in the promoter region of the dopamine-4-receptor gene (DRD4), is associated with approach-related traits including novelty seeking and extraversion, in some, but not all studies. To our knowledge, no studies have been conducted on the genetics of risk-taking behavior in sports. Using a joint-analysis approach, we measured sensation seeking in two cohorts of experienced male and female skiers and snowboarders (n = 503) using a sports-specific tool developed for this study, the Contextual Sensation Seeking Questionnaire for Skiing and Snowboarding (CSSQ-S), and a more general trait measure, the Zuckerman-Kuhlman Personality Questionnaire impulsive sensation-seeking subscale. We detected, and then replicated a significant association between the DRD4 -521CC genotype and sports-specific sensation seeking as measured using the CSSQ-S (P < 0.001). These data suggest that the DRD4 -521 C/T polymorphism contributes to a "risk-taking phenotype" in skiers and snowboarders, but the variant was not associated with impulsive sensation seeking (P = 0.9).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetics, Behavioral
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4 / genetics*
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Skiing*


  • DRD4 protein, human
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4