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Sex modulates the associations between the COMT gene and personality traits

  • Author(s): Chen, C
  • Chen, C
  • Moyzis, R
  • Dong, Q
  • He, Q
  • Zhu, B
  • Li, J
  • Li, H
  • Li, J
  • Lessard, J
  • et al.
Abstract

Previous research has shown inconsistent findings regarding the relations between the functional Val158Met polymorphisms of the catechol-O- methyltransferase (COMT) gene and individual differences in personality traits. This study attempts to overcome some of the weaknesses of previous research, namely, small sample sizes, clinical samples, ethnic stratification, wide age ranges, neglecting sex differences, and single measures of personality traits. A large sample (n556, 250 male, 306 female) of healthy Chinese college students (mean age20.51 years) was given a battery of personality scales, including the temperament and character inventory-revised, the behavioral inhibition system and behavioral approach system scale, the Beck depression inventory, and the Beck anxiety inventory. Factor analysis of the affect-related personality traits revealed two factors that corresponded to positive (PEM) and negative emotionality (NEM). We found a consistent COMT-by-sex interaction effect on affect-related personality traits. Compared with males with Met/Met alleles, males with Val/Val alleles showed significantly higher scores on NEM, but lower scores on PEM. Females, however, showed an opposite but nonsignificant pattern. Our results supported the role of the COMT gene in personality traits for males and contributed to the growing literature on sex differences in gene-behavior connections. © 2011 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. All rights reserved.

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