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Haplotype Polymorphism in the Alpha-2B-Adrenergic Receptor Gene Influences Response Inhibition in a Large Chinese Sample


Response inhibition refers to the suppression of inappropriate or irrelevant responses. It has a central role in executive functions, and has been linked to a wide spectrum of prevalent neuropsychiatric disorders. Increasing evidence from neuropharmacological studies has suggested that gene variants in the norepinephrine neurotransmission system make specific contributions to response inhibition. This study genotyped five tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms covering the whole alpha-2B-adrenergic receptor (ADRA2B) gene and investigated their associations with response inhibition in a relatively large healthy Chinese sample (N=421). The results revealed significant genetic effects of the ADRA2B conserved haplotype polymorphisms on response inhibition as measured by stop-signal reaction time (SSRT) (F(2, 418)=5.938, p=0.003). Individuals with the AAGG/AAGG genotype (n=89; mean SSRT=170.2 ms) had significantly shorter SSRTs than did those with either the CCAC/AAGG genotype (n=216; mean SSRT=182.4 ms; uncorrected p=0.03; corrected p=0.09) or the CCAC/CCAC genotype (n=116; mean SSRT=195.8 ms; corrected p<0.002, Cohen's d=0.51). This finding provides the first evidence from association research in support of a critical role of the norepinephrine neurotransmission system in response inhibition. A better understanding of the genetic basis of response inhibition would allow us to develop more effective diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of deficient or underdeveloped response inhibition as well as its related prevalent neuropsychiatric disorders.

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