Variation in dopamine genes influences responsivity of the human reward system

Jean Claude Dreher, Philip Kohn, Bhaskar Kolachana, Daniel R. Weinberger, Karen Faith Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In humans, dopamine neurotransmission is influenced by functional polymorphisms in the dopamine transporter (DAT1) and catechol-O- methyltransferase (COMT) genes. Here, we used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to directly investigate the neurofunctional effects of the Val158Met COMT and variable number of tandem repeat DAT1 polymorphisms on distinct components of the reward system in humans. The results revealed a main effect of COMT genotype in the ventral striatum and lateral prefrontal cortex during reward anticipation (P < 0.001, uncorrected) and in the orbitofrontal cortex at the time of reward delivery (P < 0.005), met/met individuals exhibiting the highest activation. The main effect of DAT1 genotype was seen in robust blood-oxygen-level-dependent response differences in the caudate nucleus and ventral striatum during reward anticipation (P < 0.001) and in the lateral prefrontal cortex and midbrain at the time of reward delivery, with carriers of the DAT1 9-repeat allele showing the highest activity. Moreover, an interaction between the COMT and DAT1 genes was found in the ventral striatum and lateral prefrontal cortex during reward anticipation and in the lateral prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortices as well as in the midbrain at the time of reward delivery, with carriers of the DAT1 9-repeat allele and COMT met/met allele exhibiting the highest activation, presumably reflecting functional change consequent to higher synaptic dopamine availability. Taken together, these results indicate that genetically influenced variations in dopamine transmission modulate the response of brain regions involved in anticipation and reception of rewards and suggest that these responses may contribute to individual differences in reward-seeking behavior and in predisposition to neuropsychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-622
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume106
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 13 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • COMT
  • DAT
  • Genetic variation
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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