Gender-specific expression of the DRD4 gene on adolescent delinquency, anger and thrill seeking

Dmitrieva, Julia; Chuansheng Chen; Greenberger, Ellen; Ogunseitan, Oladele; Yuan-Chun Ding
March 2011
Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience;Mar2011, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p82
Academic Journal
The present study investigated gender differences in the associations between the DRD4 variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) polymorphism and adolescent delinquency, short temper and thrill seeking. We also explored whether the gender-specific expression of the DRD4 can be explained by gender differences in the exposure to psychosocial risks, such as poor parent–child relationship. Participants were 263 14- to 17-year olds (50% males) living in Russia. DNA was extracted from saliva samples and the VNTR DRD4 polymorphisms were genotyped using polymerase chain reaction. Participants reported on the extent of their delinquent behaviour, short temper, thrill seeking and exposure to psychosocial risk (i.e. poor parental monitoring of adolescent behaviour, exposure to violence and peer delinquency). Compared to individuals with the 4/4 genotype, males, but not females, with the 7-repeat allele (7R) had significantly higher delinquency, short temper and thrill seeking. This interaction effect, however, was completely explained by males’ higher exposure to psychosocial risk factors. When parental monitoring of youths’ activities and youth exposure to violence were included in the model, the 7R × gender interaction was no longer significant. Thus, social context plays an important role in explaining gender-specific phenotypic expression of the DRD4 gene.


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