The COMT Val158Met polymorphism has been associated with anxiety and affective disorders, but its effect on anxiety-related personality traits varies between studies. Our purpose was to investigate the effect of COMT Val158Met on personality traits from adolescence to young adulthood in a population representative Caucasian birth cohort. Also its association with educational attainment and anxiety and mood disorders by the age 25 were examined. This analysis is based on the older cohort of the Estonian Children Personality Behavior and Health Study (original number of subjects 593). The personality traits were assessed when the participants were 15, 18 and 25 years old. COMT Val158Met had an effect on Neuroticism in females by age 25 (p=0.001, Bonferroni-corrected for five traits), whereas female Val homozygotes scored the highest. In addition, the Conscientiousness scores of subjects with Val/Val genotype were decreasing in time, being the lowest by the age 25 (p=0.006, Bonferroni-corrected for five traits). By the age 25, males with the Val/Met genotype had mainly secondary or vocational education, whereas female heterozygotes mostly had obtained or were obtaining university education. COMT Val158Met was not associated with anxiety or mood disorders in either gender. These results suggest that genes affecting dopamine system are involved in the development of personality traits and contribute to educational attainment.
Keywords: Affective disorders; Child Development; Epidemiology; Genetics; Neurotransmitters; Social and cross-cultural psychiatry.
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