Allelic variation in dopamine D2 receptor gene is associated with attentional impulsiveness on the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11)

Objectives: Previous studies have postulated that noradrenergic and/or dopaminergic gene variations are likely to underlie individual differences in impulsiveness, however, few have shown this. The current study examined the relationship between catecholamine gene variants and self-reported impulsivity, as measured by the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (Version 11; BIS-11)

Methods: Six hundred and seventy-seven non-clinical adults completed the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11). DNA was analysed for a set of 142 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across 20 autosomal catecholamine genes. Association was tested using an additive regression model with permutation testing used to control for the influence of multiple comparison.

Results: Analysis revealed an influence of rs4245146 of the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) gene on the BIS-11 attention first-order factor, such that self-reported attentional impulsiveness increased in an additive fashion with each copy of the T allele.

Conclusions: These findings provide preliminary evidence that allelic variation in DRD2 may influence impulsiveness by increasing the propensity for attentional lapses.