Article

European Journal of Human Genetics (2008) 16, 626–634; doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201999; published online 23 January 2008

The VNTR 2 repeat in MAOA and delinquent behavior in adolescence and young adulthood: associations and MAOA promoter activity

Guang Guo1, Xiao-Ming Ou2, Michael Roettger1 and Jean C Shih2

  1. 1Department of Sociology, Carolina Center for Genome Sciences, Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
  2. 2Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Correspondence: Professor G Guo, Department of Sociology, Carolina Center for Genome Sciences, Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, CB no. 3210, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3210, USA. Tel: +919 962 1246; Fax: 919 962 7568; E-mail: guang_guo@unc.edu

Received 9 June 2007; Revised 10 December 2007; Accepted 11 December 2007; Published online 23 January 2008.

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Abstract

Genetic studies of delinquent and criminal behavior are rare in spite of the wide recognition that individuals may differ in their propensity for delinquency and criminality. Using 2524 participants in Add Health in the United States, the present study demonstrates a link between the rare 2 repeat of the 30-bp VNTR in the MAOA gene and much higher levels of self-reported serious and violent delinquency. The evidence is based on a statistical association analysis and a functional analysis of MAOA promoter activity using two human brain-derived cell lines: neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y and human glioblastoma 1242-MG. The association analysis shows that men with a 2R report a level of serious delinquency and violent delinquency in adolescence and young adulthood that were about twice (CI: (0.21, 3.24), P=0.025; and CI: (0.37, 2.5), P=0.008 for serious and violent delinquency, respectively) as high as those for participants with the other variants. The results for women are similar, but weaker. In the functional analysis, the 2 repeat exhibits much lower levels of promoter activity than the 3 or 4 repeat.

Keywords:

delinquency, crime, violence, MAOA, genotype, antisocial behavior

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