Polymorphisms in dopaminergic system genes; association with criminal behavior and self-reported aggression in violent prison inmates from Pakistan

Qadeer, Muhammad Imran; Amar, Ali; Mann, J. John; Hasnain, Shahida

Genetic factors contribute to antisocial and criminal behavior. Dopamine transporter DAT-1 (SLC6A3) and DRD2 gene for the dopamine-2 receptor are dopaminergic system genes that regulate dopamine reuptake and signaling, and may be part of the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders including antisocial behaviors and traits. No previous studies have analyzed DAT-1 and DRD2 polymorphisms in convicted murderers, particularly from Indian subcontinent. In this study we investigated the association of 40 bp VNTR polymorphism of DAT-1 and Taq1 variant of DRD2 gene (rs1800479) with criminal behavior and self-reported aggression in 729 subjects, including 370 men in Pakistani prisons convicted of first degree murder(s) and 359 control men without any history of violence or criminal tendency. The 9R allele of DAT-1 VNTR polymorphism was more prevalent in convicted murderers compared with control samples, for either one or two risk alleles (OR = 1.49 and 3.99 respectively, P = 0.003). This potential association of DAT-1 9R allele polymorphism with murderer phenotype was confirmed assuming different genetic models of inheritance. However, no genetic association was found for DRD2 Taq1 polymorphism. In addition, a combined haplotype (9R-A2) of DAT-1 and DRD2 genes was associated with this murderer phenotype. Further, 9R allele of DAT-1 was also associated with response to verbal abuse and parental marital complications, but not with other measures pertinent to self-reported aggression. These results suggest that 9R allele, which may influence levels of intra-synaptic dopamine in the brain, may contribute to criminal tendency in this sample of violent murderers of Pakistani origin. Future studies are needed to replicate this finding in other populations of murderers and see if this finding extends to other forms of violence and lesser degrees of aggression.

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September 29, 2017