Serotonin and Dopamine Candidate Gene Variants and Alcohol- and Non-Alcohol-Related Aggression

Alcohol Alcohol. 2015 Nov;50(6):690-9. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agv057. Epub 2015 Jun 3.


Aims: Aggressive and criminal traits have a complex genetic background which interacts with environmental factors. Alcohol intoxication has been related to lower thresholds of aggressive behaviors. In this association study of two independent samples, a number of candidate gene variants (5HT2A T102C, 5-HTTLPR, DRD Ins-141Del, DAT1 VNTR) were related to violent criminal behavior and alcohol-related aggressive traits.

Method: Treatment-seeking alcohol-dependent individuals (293 patients and 499 controls from Germany, 180 patients and 402 controls from Poland) underwent a Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism interview which gathered information on alcohol-related violence and criminal behaviors, beside alcohol dependence characteristics.

Results: Patients with a history of violent or non-violent crime were more often male, had an earlier onset of alcoholism, more withdrawal seizures and delirium tremens, and were more likely to have a history of suicide attempts. No significant association between candidate gene variants and criminal behavior was detected. 5HTTLPR variant was related to one characteristic of alcohol-related violence.

Conclusions: With findings from genome-wide association studies linking aggression-related traits to second messenger systems, further studies are needed to determine the genetic underpinnings of non-alcohol and alcohol-related aggression.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression / drug effects*
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minisatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2A / genetics*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / genetics*
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Young Adult


  • DRD1 protein, human
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT2A
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • SLC6A3 protein, human
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins