Genes Implicated in Serotonergic and Dopaminergic Functioning Predict BMI Categories


Fuemmeler, B. F., Agurs‐Collins, T. D., Mcclernon, F. J., Kollins, S. H., Kail, M. E., Bergen, A. W., & Ashley‐Koch, A. E. (2008). Genes implicated in serotonergic and dopaminergic functioning predict BMI categories. Obesity, 16(2), 348-355.


Objective: This study addressed the hypothesis that variation in genes associated with dopamine function (SLC6A3, DRD2, DRD4), serotonin function (SLC6A4, and regulation of monoamine levels (MAOA) may be predictive of BMI categories (obese and overweight + obese) in young adulthood and of changes in BMI as adolescents transition into young adulthood. Interactions with gender and race/ethnicity were also examined.

Methods and Procedures: Participants were a subsample of individuals from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a nationally representative sample of adolescents followed from 1995 to 2002. The sample analyzed included a subset of 1,584 unrelated individuals with genotype data. Multiple logistic regressions were conducted to evaluate the associations between genotypes and obesity (BMI > 29.9) or overweight + obese combined (BMI ≥ 25) with normal weight (BMI = 18.5–24.9) as a referent. Linear regression models were used to examine change in BMI from adolescence to young adulthood.

Results: Significant associations were found between SLC6A4 5HTTLPR and categories of BMI, and between MAOA promoter variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) among men and categories of BMI. Stratified analyses revealed that the association between these two genes and excess BMI was significant for men overall and for white and Hispanic men specifically. Linear regression models indicated a significant effect of SLC6A4 5HTTLPR on change in BMI from adolescence to young adulthood.

Discussion: Our findings lend further support to the involvement of genes implicated in dopamine and serotonin regulation on energy balance.

Read more from SRI