Thursday, July 24, 2008

Monoamine oxidase gene variant that correlates with aggression.

A colleague has pointed out a recent paper that compliments work mentioned in my May 14 post showing that brain monoamine oxidase activity (MAOA) levels predict male aggression. (MAOA inactivates the monoamine neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.) The paper by Guo et al. examines the effects of a particular genetic variant of the MAOA gene, a two-fold repeat of the 30-base pair promoter region VNTR. They correlated self-reported serious and violent delinquency and the 30-bp VNTR in the MAOA gene in a cohort of 2524 adolescents and young adults in the United States in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Here, for techie readers, is their abstract:
Genetic studies of delinquent and criminal behavior are rare in spite of the wide recognition that individuals may differ in their propensity for delinquency and criminality. Using 2524 participants in Add Health in the United States, the present study demonstrates a link between the rare 2 repeat of the 30-bp VNTR in the MAOA gene and much higher levels of self-reported serious and violent delinquency. The evidence is based on a statistical association analysis and a functional analysis of MAOA promoter activity using two human brain-derived cell lines: neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y and human glioblastoma 1242-MG. The association analysis shows that men with a 2R report a level of serious delinquency and violent delinquency in adolescence and young adulthood that were about twice (CI: (0.21, 3.24), P=0.025; and CI: (0.37, 2.5), P=0.008 for serious and violent delinquency, respectively) as high as those for participants with the other variants. The results for women are similar, but weaker. In the functional analysis, the 2 repeat exhibits much lower levels of promoter activity than the 3 or 4 repeat.

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