The default mode network (DMN) comprises a set of brain regions with “increased” activity during rest relative to cognitive processing. Activity in the DMN is associated with functional connections with the striatum and dopamine (DA) levels in this brain region. A functional single-nucleotide polymorphism within the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2, rs1076560 G > T) shifts splicing of the 2 D2 isoforms, D2 short and D2 long, and has been associated with striatal DA signaling as well as with cognitive processing. However, the effects of this polymorphism on DMN have not been explored. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of rs1076560 on DMN and striatal connectivity and on their relationship with striatal DA signaling. Twenty-eight subjects genotyped for rs1076560 underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging during a working memory task and 123 55 I-Fluoropropyl-2-beta-carbomethoxy-3-beta(4-iodophenyl) nortropan Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography ([123I]-FP-CIT SPECT) imaging (a measure of dopamine transporter [DAT] binding). Spatial group-independent component (IC) analysis was used to identify DMN and striatal ICs. Within the anterior DMN IC, GG subjects had relatively greater connectivity in medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), which was directly correlated with striatal DAT binding. Within the posterior DMN IC, GG subjects had reduced connectivity in posterior cingulate relative to T carriers. Additionally, rs1076560 genotype predicted connectivity differences within a striatal network, and these changes were correlated with connectivity in MPFC and posterior cingulate within the DMN. These results suggest that genetically determined D2 receptor signaling is associated with DMN connectivity and that these changes are correlated with striatal function and presynaptic DA signaling.
DRD2; dopamine; default mode network; functional magnetic resonance imaging; single-photon emission computerized tomography
Variation of the gene coding for D2 receptors (DRD2) has been associated with risk for schizophrenia and with working memory deficits. A functional intronic SNP (rs1076560) predicts relative expression of the two D2 receptors isoforms, D2S (mainly pre-synaptic) and D2L (mainly post-synaptic). However, the effect of functional genetic variation of DRD2 on striatal dopamine D2 signaling and on its correlation with prefrontal activity during working memory in humans is not known.
Thirty-seven healthy subjects were genotyped for rs1076560 (G>T) and underwent SPECT with [123I]IBZM (which binds primarily to post-synaptic D2 receptors) and with [123I]FP-CIT (which binds to pre-synaptic dopamine transporters, whose activity and density is also regulated by pre-synaptic D2 receptors), as well as BOLD fMRI during N-Back working memory.
Subjects carrying the T allele (previously associated with reduced D2S expression) had striatal reductions of [123I]IBZM and of [123I]FP-CIT binding. DRD2 genotype also differentially predicted the correlation between striatal dopamine D2 signaling (as identified with factor analysis of the two radiotracers) and activity of the prefrontal cortex during working memory as measured with BOLD fMRI, which was positive in GG subjects and negative in GT.
Our results demonstrate that this functional SNP within DRD2 predicts striatal binding of the two radiotracers to dopamine transporters and D2 receptors as well as the correlation between striatal D2 signaling with prefrontal cortex activity during performance of a working memory task. These data are consistent with the possibility that the balance of excitatory/inhibitory modulation of striatal neurons may also affect striatal outputs in relationship with prefrontal activity during working memory performance within the cortico-striatal-thalamic-cortical pathway.
The dopamine receptor D2 (encoded by DRD2) is implicated in susceptibility to mental disorders and cocaine abuse, but mechanisms responsible for this relationship remain uncertain. DRD2 mRNA exists in two main splice isoforms with distinct functions: D2 long (D2L) and D2 short (D2S, lacking exon 6), expressed mainly postsynaptically and presynaptically, respectively. Two intronic single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs rs2283265 (intron 5) and rs1076560 (intron 6)) in high linkage disequilibrium (LD) with each other have been reported to alter D2S/D2L splicing and several behavioral traits in human subjects, such as memory processing. To assess the role of DRD2 variants in cocaine abuse, we measured levels of D2S and D2L mRNA in human brain autopsy tissues (prefrontal cortex and putamen) obtained from cocaine abusers and controls, and genotyped a panel of DRD2 SNPs (119 abusers and 95 controls). Robust effects of rs2283265 and rs1076560 on reducing formation of D2S relative to D2L were confirmed. The minor alleles of rs2283265/rs1076560 were considerably more frequent in Caucasians (18%) compared with African Americans (7%). Also, in Caucasians, rs2283265/rs1076560 minor alleles were significantly overrepresented in cocaine abusers compared with controls (rs2283265: 25 to 9%, respectively; p=0.001; OR=3.4 (1.7–7.1)). Several SNPs previously implicated in diverse clinical association studies are in high LD with rs2283265/rs1076560 and could have served as surrogate markers. Our results confirm the role of rs2283265/rs1076560 in D2 alternative splicing and support a strong role in susceptibility to cocaine abuse.
alternative splicing; cocaine; dopamine; DRD2; D2S; human; addiction and substance abuse; dopamine; neurogenetics; psychostimulants; drd2; d2s; human; alternative splicing; cocaine
Dopamine modulation of neuronal activity during memory tasks identifies a non-linear inverted-U shaped function. Both the dopamine transporter (DAT) and dopamine D2 receptors (encoded by DRD2) critically regulate dopamine signaling in the striatum and in prefrontal cortex during memory. Moreover, in vitro studies have demonstrated that DAT and D2 proteins reciprocally regulate each other presynaptically. Therefore, we have evaluated the genetic interaction between a DRD2 polymorphism (rs1076560) causing reduced presynaptic D2 receptor expression and the DAT 3’-VNTR variant (affecting DAT expression) in a large sample of healthy subjects undergoing BOLD - fMRI during memory tasks and structural MRI. Results indicated a significant DRD2/DAT interaction in prefrontal cortex and striatum BOLD activity during both working memory and encoding of recognition memory. The differential effect on BOLD activity of the DAT variant was mostly manifest in the context of the DRD2 allele associated with lower presynaptic expression. Similar results were also evident for gray matter volume in caudate. These interactions describe a non-linear relationship between compound genotypes and brain activity or gray matter volume. Complementary data from striatal protein extracts from wild-type and D2 knock-out animals (D2R−/−) indicate that DAT and D2 proteins interact in vivo. Taken together, our results demonstrate that the interaction between genetic variants in DRD2 and DAT critically modulates the non-linear relationship between dopamine and neuronal activity during memory processing.
working memory; Recognition Memory; FMRI; Dopamine; Transport; D2; Receptor
Dopamine D2 receptor signalling is strongly implicated in the aetiology of schizophrenia. We have recently characterized the function of three DRD2 SNPs: rs12364283 in the promoter affecting total D2 mRNA expression; rs2283265 and rs1076560, respectively in introns 5 and 6, shifting mRNA splicing to two functionally distinct isoforms, the short form of D2 (D2S) and the long form (D2L). These two isoforms differentially contribute to dopamine signalling in prefrontal cortex and in striatum. We performed a case–control study to determine association of these variants and of their main haplotypes with several schizophrenia-related phenotypes. We demonstrate that the minor allele in the intronic variants is associated with reduced expression of %D2S of total mRNA in post-mortem prefrontal cortex, and with impaired working memory behavioural performance, both in patients and controls. However, the fMRI results show opposite effects in patients compared with controls: enhanced engagement of prefronto-striatal pathways in controls and reduced activity in patients. Moreover, the promoter variant is also associated with working memory activity in prefrontal cortex and striatum of patients, and less robustly with negative symptoms scores. Main haplotypes formed by the three DRD2 variants showed significant associations with these phenotypes consistent with those of the individual SNPs. Our results indicate that the three functional DRD2 variants modulate schizophrenia phenotypes possibly by modifying D2S/D2L ratios in the context of different total D2 density.
dopamine; D2 receptor; working memory; prefrontal cortex; striatum
Dopamine (DA) neurotransmission through D2 receptors (DRD2) has been implicated in the regulation of reward processing, cognition and the effects of drugs of abuse, and also has significant effects in responses to stressors and salient aversive stimuli. An examination of the influence of genetic variation across multiple psychophysical measures therefore appears critical to understand the neurobiology of DA-modulated complex personality traits and psychiatric illnesses. To examine interindividual variation in the function of DRD2 modulated mechanisms in healthy humans, we used a haplotype-based and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) investigation. Their effects were interrogated with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during reward and emotional processing. We found that a haplotype block composed by two SNPs, rs4274224 and rs4581480, affected the hemodynamic responses of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) during reward expectation and the subgenual anterior cingulate cortices (sgACC) during implicit emotional processing. Exploratory analysis within the significant haplotype block revealed the same functional effects only for the SNP rs4274224. Further analysis on rs4274224 using functional connectivity and positron emission tomography (PET) measures of DA D2/3 receptor mediated neurotransmission confirmed a gene effect on the functional connectivity of the DLPFC during reward anticipation and subcortical stress induced dopamine release. At a phenotypic trait level, significant effects of genotype were obtained for the NEO PI-R “Openness to Experience” and further correlated with neuroimaging data. Overall, these results show significant neurobiological effects of genotype variation in DRD2 on multiple functional domains, such as emotional, stress and reward processing. As such, it contributes to normal variation and potentially to vulnerability to psychopathology associated with those functions, such as risk for mood and substance use disorders.
imaging; dopamine; DLPFC; reward; emotion
Dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) and dopamine D3 receptor (DRD3) genes could be candidates for personality-related genes considering their pharmacological profiles or structures. However, a limited number of studies have investigated the association between these genes and personality traits. In the present study, we investigated the DRD2, DRD3, and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) genes in relation to personality traits in the Japanese population. Epistasis (gene-gene interaction) among the genes was extensively analyzed, in addition to the analysis based on each gene.
The -241A/G, -141C Ins/Del, and Ser311Cys polymorphisms in the DRD2 gene, the Ser9Gly polymorphism of the DRD3 gene, and the Val81Met and PstI site polymorphisms in the TH gene were genotyped in 257 healthy Japanese subjects. Personality traits were evaluated by using the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). The associations between gene polymorphisms and the scores for NEO PI-R or Trait Anxiety of STAI were statistically analyzed by one-way analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) adjusting sex and age. Epistasis was assessed using two-way ANCOVA between the polymorphisms of independent two genes.
In the analysis based on each gene, trends for association were observed between State Anxiety and the DRD2 -141C Ins/Del polymorphism (p = 0.031, uncorrected), and between Trait Anxiety and the DRD2 Ser311Cys or TH PstI site polymorphism (p = 0.048 and 0.041, respectively, uncorrected). In epistatic analysis, a trend for interaction was observed on the scores for Neuroticism and Trait Anxiety between the DRD2 -141C Ins/Del and TH Val81Met polymorphisms (p = 0.015 and 0.010, respectively, uncorrected). However, these differences were insignificant after Bonferroni correction.
The present study did not provide evidence for the association between these dopamine-related genes and personality traits in the Japanese population.
Human personality traits have a considerable genetic component. Cloninger et al. were the first to postulate that certain personality traits, such as novelty seeking, are related to the dopamine neurotransmitter system. In this study, we investigated the associations between dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) exon III and dopamine transporter (DAT1) polymorphisms and personality traits. The DRD4 and DAT1 gene polymorphisms were genotyped in 214 healthy Korean subjects, whose personality traits were assessed with the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). There were no significant differences between scores of TCI temperament dimensions (novelty seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence, and persistence) and DRD4 gene polymorphism. The DAT1 gene polymorphisms also showed no significant association with any of the temperament subscales of the TCI. These data suggest that DRD4 and DAT1 gene polymorphism may not associated with personality traits in a Korean population.
Dopamine receptor D4; dopamine transporter gene; polymorphism; personality traits; temperament and character inventory; Korean
Polymorphisms in several neurotransmitter-associated genes have been associated with variation in human personality traits. Among the more promising of such associations is that between the human dopamine receptor D4 gene (Drd4) variants and novelty-seeking behaviour. However, genetic epistasis, genotype–environment interactions and confounding environmental factors all act to obscure genotype–personality relationships. Such problems can be addressed by measuring personality under standardized conditions and by selection experiments, with both approaches only feasible with non-human animals. Looking for similar Drd4 genotype–personality associations in a free-living bird, the great tit (Parus major), we detected 73 polymorphisms (66 SNPs, 7 indels) in the P. major Drd4 orthologue. Two of the P. major Drd4 gene polymorphisms were investigated for evidence of association with novelty-seeking behaviour: a coding region synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP830) and a 15 bp indel (ID15) located 5′ to the putative transcription initiation site. Frequencies of the three Drd4 SNP830 genotypes, but not the ID15 genotypes, differed significantly between two P. major lines selected over four generations for divergent levels of ‘early exploratory behaviour’ (EEB). Strong corroborating evidence for the significance of this finding comes from the analysis of free-living, unselected birds where we found a significant association between SNP830 genotypes and differing mean EEB levels. These findings suggest that an association between Drd4 gene polymorphisms and animal personality variation predates the divergence of the avian and mammalian lineages. Furthermore, this work heralds the possibility of following microevolutionary changes in frequencies of behaviourally relevant Drd4 polymorphisms within populations where natural selection acts differentially on different personality types.
personality; Drd4; dopamine receptor; polymorphisms; Parus major; novelty seeking
The neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) modulates executive functions, learning, and emotional processing, all of which are impaired in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Our previous findings suggest a role for dopamine-related genes in families with only affected males.
We examined two additional genes which affect DA function, the DRD2 and PPP1R1B (DARPP-32) genes, in a cohort of 112 male-only affected sib-pair families. Selected polymorphisms spanning these genes were genotyped and both family-based and population-based tests were carried out for association analysis. General discriminant analysis was used to examine the gene-gene interactions in predicting autism susceptibility.
There was a significantly increased frequency of the DRD2 rs1800498TT genotype (P = 0.007) in affected males compared to the comparison group, apparently due to over-transmission of the T allele (P = 0.0003). The frequency of the PPP1R1B rs1495099CC genotype in affected males was also higher than that in the comparison group (P = 0.002) due to preferential transmission of the C allele from parents to affected children (P = 0.0009). Alleles rs1800498T and rs1495099C were associated with more severe problems in social interaction (P = 0.0002 and P = 0.0016, respectively) and communication (P = 0.0004 and P = 0.0046), and increased stereotypic behaviours (P = 0.0021 and P = 0.00072). General discriminant analysis found that the DRD2 and PPP1R1B genes additively predicted ASDs (P = 0.00011; Canonical R = 0.26) and explain ~7% of the variance in our families. All findings remained significant following corrections for multiple testing.
Our findings support a role for the DRD2 and PPP1R1B genes in conferring risk for autism in families with only affected males and show an additive effect of these genes towards prediction of affected status in our families.
Autism spectrum disorders; Dopamine receptors; DARPP-32; Association study; Candidate gene
To examine genetic associations of polymorphisms in the dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2) and D3 (DRD3) genes with risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
The study included 1325 newly diagnosed patients with PD and 1735 controls from a consortium of five North American case-control studies. We collected risk factor information by in-person or telephone interview. Six DRD2 and two DRD3 polymorphisms were genotyped using a common laboratory. Odds ratios were estimated using logistic regression.
Among non-Hispanic whites, homozygous carriers of Taq1A DRD2 (rs1800497) polymorphism had an increased risk of PD compared to homozygous wildtype carriers (OR=1.5, 95% CI 1.0–2.3). In contrast, the direction of association for Taq1A polymorphism was opposite for African Americans, showing an inverse association with PD risk (OR=0.10, 95% CI 0.2–0.7). Among white Hispanics who carried two alleles, the Ser9Gly DRD3 (rs6280) polymorphism was associated with a decreased risk of PD (OR=0.4, 95%CI 0.2–0.8). The inverse association of smoking with PD risk was not modified by any of the DRD2 or DRD3 polymorphisms.
DRD2 polymorphisms are unlikely to be true disease-causing variants; however, three DRD2 polymorphisms (including Taq1A) may be in linkage disequilibrium with possible disease associated variants in the DRD2-ANKK1-NCAM1-TTC12 gene cluster.
Parkinson's disease; dopamine receptor genes; case-control studies; epidemiology
Molecular genetic studies have identified several genes that may mediate susceptibility to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A consensus of the literature suggests that when there is a dysfunction in the “brain reward cascade,” especially in the dopamine system, causing a low or hypo-dopaminergic trait, the brain may require dopamine for individuals to avoid unpleasant feelings. This high-risk genetic trait leads to multiple drug-seeking behaviors, because the drugs activate release of dopamine, which can diminish abnormal cravings. Moreover, this genetic trait is due in part to a form of a gene (DRD2 A1 allele) that prevents the expression of the normal laying down of dopamine receptors in brain reward sites. This gene, and others involved in neurophysiological processing of specific neurotransmitters, have been associated with deficient functions and predispose individuals to have a high risk for addictive, impulsive, and compulsive behavioral propensities. It has been proposed that genetic variants of dopaminergic genes and other “reward genes” are important common determinants of reward deficiency syndrome (RDS), which we hypothesize includes ADHD as a behavioral subtype. We further hypothesize that early diagnosis through genetic polymorphic identification in combination with DNA-based customized nutraceutical administration to young children may attenuate behavioral symptoms associated with ADHD. Moreover, it is concluded that dopamine and serotonin releasers might be useful therapeutic adjuncts for the treatment of other RDS behavioral subtypes, including addictions.
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); genes; reward dependence; reward deficiency syndrome; treatment; neuropsychological deficits
Alexithymia is a personality trait characterized by difficulties in identifying and describing feelings and is associated with psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders. The mechanisms underlying the link between emotional dysregulation and psychosomatic disorders are unclear. Recent progress in neuroimaging has provided important information regarding emotional experience in alexithymia. We have conducted three brain imaging studies on alexithymia, which we describe herein. This article considers the role of emotion in the development of physical symptoms and discusses a possible pathway that we have identified in our neuroimaging studies linking alexithymia with psychosomatic disorders. In terms of socio-affective processing, alexithymics demonstrate lower reactivity in brain regions associated with emotion. Many studies have reported reduced activation in limbic areas (e.g., cingulate cortex, anterior insula, amygdala) and the prefrontal cortex when alexithymics attempt to feel other people’s feelings or retrieve their own emotional episodes, compared to nonalexithymics. With respect to primitive emotional reactions such as the response to pain, alexithymics show amplified activity in areas considered to be involved in physical sensation. In addition to greater hormonal arousal responses in alexithymics during visceral pain, increased activity has been reported in the insula, anterior cingulate cortex, and midbrain. Moreover, in complex social situations, alexithymics may not be able to use feelings to guide their behavior appropriately. The Iowa gambling task (IGT) was developed to assess decision-making processes based on emotion-guided evaluation. When alexithymics perform the IGT, they fail to learn an advantageous decision-making strategy and show reduced activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a key area for successful performance of the IGT, and increased activity in the caudate, a region associated with impulsive choice. The neural machinery in alexithymia is therefore activated more on the physiologic, motor-expressive level and less in the cognitive-experiential domains of the emotional response system. Affects may play an important role in alleviating intrinsic physiologic reactions and adapting to the environment. Deficient development of emotional neural structures may lead to hypersensitivity to bodily sensations and unhealthy behaviors, a possible mechanism linking alexithymia to psychosomatic disorders.
Affect; Alexithymia; Emotional dysregulation; Neuroimaging; Psychosomatic disorders
The VNTR polymorphism in the Dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4) has been associated with differential urge for substances across multiple methodologies ranging from neuroimaging to assessment in the natural environment. It is unclear whether the DRD4 gene is a marker for an underlying propensity for greater urge or whether the DRD4 gene differentially moderates the neuroadaptive effects of extended substance use on urge. Examination of the DRD4 in an adolescent sample may provide evidence of a mechanism of this putative relationship.
Data from a subset of 77 participants in a larger assessment study characterized adolescents for substance-related behaviors by DRD4 genotype. The psychiatrically admitted adolescents were genotyped for the variable number of tandem repeats polymorphism in the DRD4 gene (L ≥ 7 [n = 25], S = < 7 [n = 52]). Associations of the DRD4 with scores on the SASSI, and ADI were examined as well as selected individual items thought to be most related to the intermediate phenotype of urge.
The DRD4 gene was not associated with any DSM-IV substance misuse diagnostic classification. Individual items related to urge were also nonsignificantly related to DRD4 status. Carriers of the long variant of the DRD4 polymorphism were more likely to have used hard drugs within the previous 6 months and scored higher on the self-medication subscale of the ADI compared to short variant homozygotes.
Preliminary results provide little evidence for the DRD4 VNTR polymorphism to be related to urge-related phenomena in hospitalized adolescents on a psychiatric inpatient unit. The association of the DRD4 gene with hard drug use may support literature linking this gene to impulsivity. Subscale findings may suggest a role of negative affect in previous DRD4 urge findings.
DRD4; adolescents; substance misuse
What determines success on Wall Street? This study examined if genes affecting dopamine levels of professional traders were associated with their career tenure. Sixty professional Wall Street traders were genotyped and compared to a control group who did not trade stocks. We found that distinct alleles of the dopamine receptor 4 promoter (DRD4P) and catecholamine-O-methyltransferase (COMT) that affect synaptic dopamine were predominant in traders. These alleles are associated with moderate, rather than very high or very low, levels of synaptic dopamine. The activity of these alleles correlated positively with years spent trading stocks on Wall Street. Differences in personality and trading behavior were also correlated with allelic variants. This evidence suggests there may be a genetic basis for the traits that make one a successful trader.
This study investigated possible associations between
selected polymorphisms in the dopamine receptor genes DRD1 and DRD3 with the presence of psychotic phenomena or aggressive behaviour in a
community based cohort of 134 patients with late onset Alzheimer's disease. An association was found between the presence of psychotic symptoms and aggressive behaviour and the DRD1 polymorphism and between
the presence of psychosis, but not aggression, and the DRD3
polymorphism. Specifically, carriers of the DRD1 B2 allele were more
likely to be aggressive or experience hallucinations whereas homozygous
carriers of the DRD3 1 allele were more likely to experience delusions.
Participants who are instructed to use reappraisal to downregulate negative emotion show decreased amygdala responses and increased prefrontal responses. However, it is not known whether individual differences in the tendency to use reappraisal manifests in similar neural responses when individuals are spontaneously confronted with negative situations. Such spontaneous emotion regulation might play an important role in normal and pathological responses to the emotional challenges of everyday life.
Fifty-six healthy women completed a blood oxygenation-level dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging challenge paradigm involving the perceptual processing of emotionally negative facial expressions. Participants also completed measures of typical emotion regulation use, trait anxiety, and neuroticism.
Greater use of reappraisal in everyday life was related to decreased amygdala activity and increased prefrontal and parietal activity during the processing of negative emotional facial expressions. These associations were not attributable to variation in trait anxiety, neuroticism, or the use of another common form of emotion regulation, namely suppression.
These findings suggest that, like instructed reappraisal, individual differences in reappraisal use are associated with decreased activation in ventral emotion generative regions and increased activation in prefrontal control regions in response to negative stimuli. Such individual differences in emotion regulation might predict successful coping with emotional challenges as well as the onset of affective disorders.
Amygdala; cognitive control; emotion; fMRI; regulation; reappraisal
Most individuals successfully maintain psychological well-being even when exposed to trauma or adversity. Emotional resilience or the ability to thrive in the face of adversity is determined by complex interactions between genetic makeup, previous exposure to stress, personality, coping style, availability of social support, etc. Recent studies have demonstrated that childhood trauma diminishes resilience in adults and affects mental health. The Dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) exon III variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) polymorphism was reported to moderate the impact of adverse childhood environment on behaviour, mood and other health-related outcomes. In this study we investigated whether DRD4-exIII-VNTR genotype moderates the effect of childhood adversities (CA) on resilience. In a representative population sample (n = 1148) aged 30–34 years, we observed an interactive effect of DRD4 genotype and CA (β = 0.132; p = 0.003) on resilience despite no main effect of the genotype when effects of age, gender and education were controlled for. The 7-repeat allele appears to protect against the adverse effect of CA since the decline in resilience associated with increased adversity was evident only in individuals without the 7-repeat allele. Resilience was also significantly associated with approach-/avoidance-related personality measures (behavioural inhibition/activation system; BIS/BAS) measures and an interactive effect of DRD4-exIII-VNTR genotype and CA on BAS was observed. Hence it is possible that approach-related personality traits could be mediating the effect of the DRD4 gene and childhood environment interaction on resilience such that when stressors are present, the 7-repeat allele influences the development of personality in a way that provides protection against adverse outcomes.
Serotonergic system dysfunction has been implicated in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Genetic polymorphisms associated with serotonin signaling may predict differences in brain circuitry involved in emotion processing and deficits associated with PTSD. In healthy individuals, common functional polymorphisms in the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) have been shown to modulate amygdala and prefrontal cortex (PFC) activity in response to salient emotional stimuli. Similar patterns of differential neural responses to emotional stimuli have been demonstrated in PTSD but genetic factors influencing these activations have yet to be examined.
We investigated whether SLC6A4 promoter polymorphisms (5-HTTLPR, rs25531) and several downstream single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) modulated activity of brain regions involved in the cognitive control of emotion in post-9/11 veterans with PTSD. We used functional MRI to examine neural activity in a PTSD group (n = 22) and a trauma-exposed control group (n = 20) in response to trauma-related images presented as task-irrelevant distractors during the active maintenance period of a delayed-response working memory task. Regions of interest were derived by contrasting activation for the most distracting and least distracting conditions across participants.
In patients with PTSD, when compared to trauma-exposed controls, rs16965628 (associated with serotonin transporter gene expression) modulated task-related ventrolateral PFC activation and 5-HTTLPR tended to modulate left amygdala activation. Subsequent to combat-related trauma, these SLC6A4 polymorphisms may bias serotonin signaling and the neural circuitry mediating cognitive control of emotion in patients with PTSD.
The SLC6A4 SNP rs16965628 and 5-HTTLPR are associated with a bias in neural responses to traumatic reminders and cognitive control of emotions in patients with PTSD. Functional MRI may help identify intermediate phenotypes and dimensions of PTSD that clarify the functional link between genes and disease phenotype, and also highlight features of PTSD that show more proximal influence of susceptibility genes compared to current clinical categorizations.
PTSD; imaging genetics; ventrolateral PFC; amygdala; SLC6A4; rs16965628; working memory; emotion processing; cognitive control
The personality trait Openness/Intellect reflects the tendency to be imaginative, curious, perceptive, artistic, and intellectual—all characteristics that involve cognitive exploration. Little is known about the biological basis of Openness/Intellect, but the trait has been linked to cognitive functions of prefrontal cortex, and the neurotransmitter dopamine plays a key role in motivation to explore. The hypothesis that dopamine is involved in Openness/Intellect was supported by examining its association with two genes that are central components of the prefrontal dopaminergic system. In two demographically different samples (children: N = 608; adults: N = 214), variation in the dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4) and the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene (COMT) predicted Openness/Intellect, as main effects in the child sample and in interaction in adults.
Openness to Experience; Intellect; Personality; Dopamine; Genetics; DRD4; COMT
The limbic system and especially the amygdala have been identified as key structures in emotion induction and regulation. Recently research has additionally focused on the influence of prefrontal areas on emotion processing in the limbic system and the amygdala. Results from fMRI studies indicate that the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is involved not only in emotion induction but also in emotion regulation. However, studies using fNIRS only report prefrontal brain activation during emotion induction. So far it lacks the attempt to compare emotion induction and emotion regulation with regard to prefrontal activation measured with fNIRS, to exclude the possibility that the reported prefrontal brain activation in fNIRS studies are mainly caused by automatic emotion regulation processes. Therefore this work tried to distinguish emotion induction from regulation via fNIRS of the prefrontal cortex. 20 healthy women viewed neutral pictures as a baseline condition, fearful pictures as induction condition and reappraised fearful pictures as regulation condition in randomized order. As predicted, the view-fearful condition led to higher arousal ratings than the view-neutral condition with the reappraise-fearful condition in between. For the fNIRS results the induction condition showed an activation of the bilateral PFC compared to the baseline condition (viewing neutral). The regulation condition showed an activation only of the left PFC compared to the baseline condition, although the direct comparison between induction and regulation condition revealed no significant difference in brain activation. Therefore our study underscores the results of previous fNIRS studies showing prefrontal brain activation during emotion induction and rejects the hypothesis that this prefrontal brain activation might only be a result of automatic emotion regulation processes.
fNIRS; Emotional processing; emotional regulation.
A 48bp variable number of tandem repeat (VNTR), in the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4), has been extensively studied in association with a variety of traits and neuropsychiatric disorders in different ethnic groups; the VNTR has been found to affect receptor binding.
This investigation, for the first time, compared distribution of DRD4 VNTR in different Indian populations from the eastern part of the country, belonging to Indo-Caucasoid and Indo-Mongoloid ethnicity.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
852 individuals were recruited and divided into six population groups; Brahmin, Kayastha, Scheduled Caste, Mahishya, Muslim and Manipuri (Meitei). Allele and genotype frequencies were compared among groups as well as with data available for south-western Indian population.
A total of six alleles (2-7-repeats) were observed, of which the 4-repeat (4R) was most frequent. Gross genetic dissimilarities were noticed between the Indo-Caucasoid and Indo-Mongoloid ethnic groups. Muslim group lacked 5R and 7R, while Manipuri group exhibited a very high frequency of 2R. Populations from eastern India revealed lower 7R frequencies as compared to the south-western populations.
The DRD4 VNTR has been reported to play important role in cognition and alleles with higher repeats have been found to be associated with novelty seeking and personality traits. The present comparative analysis of different eastern Indian population would be helpful in extending our knowledge on this particular DRD4 variant. It will also be useful in understanding the behavioural differences between populations in the light of their genetic make up.
DRD4; exon 3 variable number of tandem repeat; eastern-Indian population
Dopamine and dopamine-receptor function are often implicated in behavioral inhibition, and deficiencies within behavioral inhibition processes linked to ADHD, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and drug addiction. In the stop-signal task, which measures the speed of the process of inhibition (stop-signal reaction time, SSRT), psychostimulant-related improvement of SSRT in ADHD is linked with dopamine function. However, the precise nature of dopaminergic control over SSRT remains unclear.
This study examined region- and receptor-specific modulation of SSRT in the rat using direct infusions, into the dorsomedial striatum (DMStr) or nucleus accumbens core (NAcbC), of the dopamine D1-receptor (DRD1) antagonist SCH 23390 or dopamine D2-receptor (DRD2) antagonist sulpiride. DRD1 and DRD2 antagonists had contrasting effects on SSRT that were specific to the DMStr. SCH 23390 decreased SSRT with little effect on the go response. Conversely, sulpiride increased SSRT but also increased go-trial reaction time and reduced trial completion at the highest doses. These results suggest that DRD1 and DRD2 function within the DMStr, but not the NAcbC, may act to balance behavioral inhibition in a manner that is independent of behavioral activation.
stopping; SSRT; caudate; ADHD; schizophrenia; OCD
We identified subsets of neurons in the brain that co-express the dopamine receptor subtype-2 (DRD2) and the ghrelin receptor (GHSR1a). Combination of FRET confocal microscopy and Tr-FRET established the presence of GHSR1a:DRD2 heteromers in hypothalamic neurons. To interrogate function, mice were treated with the selective DRD2 agonist cabergoline which produced anorexia in wild-type and ghrelin−/− mice; intriguingly, ghsr−/− mice were refractory illustrating dependence on GHSR1a, but not ghrelin. Elucidation of mechanism showed that formation of GHSR1a:DRD2 heteromers allosterically modifies canonical DRD2 dopamine signaling resulting in Gβγ subunit-dependent mobilization of [Ca2+]i independent of GHSR1a basal activity. By targeting the interaction between GHSR1a and DRD2 in wild-type mice with a highly selective GHSR1a antagonist (JMV2959) cabergoline–induced anorexia was blocked. Inhibiting dopamine signaling in subsets of neurons with a GHSR1a antagonist has profound therapeutic implications by providing enhanced selectivity because neurons expressing DRD2 alone would be unaffected.
ghrelin; growth hormone secretagogue receptor; GHSR1a; dopamine; DRD2; GPCR; heteromerization; Tr-FRET; FRET; protein-protein interaction; signal transduction; G protein; hypothalamus; brain; feeding behavior; food intake
Abnormal behaviors involving dopaminergic gene polymorphisms often reflect an insufficiency of usual feelings of satisfaction, or Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS). RDS results from a dysfunction in the “brain reward cascade,” a complex interaction among neurotransmitters (primarily dopaminergic and opioidergic). Individuals with a family history of alcoholism or other addictions may be born with a deficiency in the ability to produce or use these neurotransmitters. Exposure to prolonged periods of stress and alcohol or other substances also can lead to a corruption of the brain reward cascade function. We evaluated the potential association of four variants of dopaminergic candidate genes in RDS (dopamine D1 receptor gene [DRD1]; dopamine D2 receptor gene [DRD2]; dopamine transporter gene [DAT1]; dopamine beta-hydroxylase gene [DBH]). Methodology: We genotyped an experimental group of 55 subjects derived from up to five generations of two independent multiple-affected families compared to rigorously screened control subjects (e.g., N = 30 super controls for DRD2 gene polymorphisms). Data related to RDS behaviors were collected on these subjects plus 13 deceased family members. Results: Among the genotyped family members, the DRD2 Taq1 and the DAT1 10/10 alleles were significantly (at least p < 0.015) more often found in the RDS families vs. controls. The TaqA1 allele occurred in 100% of Family A individuals (N = 32) and 47.8% of Family B subjects (11 of 23). No significant differences were found between the experimental and control positive rates for the other variants. Conclusions: Although our sample size was limited, and linkage analysis is necessary, the results support the putative role of dopaminergic polymorphisms in RDS behaviors. This study shows the importance of a nonspecific RDS phenotype and informs an understanding of how evaluating single subset behaviors of RDS may lead to spurious results. Utilization of a nonspecific “reward” phenotype may be a paradigm shift in future association and linkage studies involving dopaminergic polymorphisms and other neurotransmitter gene candidates.
dopamine; gene polymorphisms; generational association studies; phenotype; “super normal” controls; Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS)