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Comorbid personality pathologies may affect the outcome of patients with major depression (MD). The dopamine transporter gene DAT1 (SLC6A3) has been suggested to play a role in both depression and specific personality traits. The aim of this study was to assess five polymorphisms of the DAT1 gene (rs2550948, rs2975226, rs6347, rs27072, and 3′-VNTR) to determine whether this gene influences personality traits in patients with MD or its subgroups.
The DAT1 polymorphisms were analysed in 463 unrelated Han Chinese MD patients. The personality traits, novelty seeking (NS), and harm avoidance (HA), were examined using the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire. The patients were also divided into four clinical subgroups on the basis of differences in their sex (male or female) and age at disease onset (early or late).
There was no association between the DAT1 gene and either NS or HA in the total MD sample or in the sex-based subgroups. However, early-onset MD patients with the G/G genotype of rs2550948 and the T/T genotype of rs2975226 had lower NS scores than did patients with the other genotypes (pcorrected = 0.05 for rs2550948 and pcorrected = 0.005 for rs2975226).
Our study suggests that DAT1 promoter variants possibly influence specific personality traits in the early-onset subgroup of depressed patients in the Han Chinese population. Further prospective cohort studies are required to verify our preliminary finding and to confirm the effects of personality susceptibility on long-term disease outcomes.