Objective: Novelty seeking is a trait that has been consistently associated with problem behaviours. There is evidence for heritability of novelty seeking, but the molecular genetic basis of the trait is still widely unclear.
Methods: The interaction between polymorphisms of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and serotonin receptor 2A genes was examined in relation to novelty seeking and its different subscales in healthy Finnish adults. A subsample of 1214 participants derived from a population-based sample was genotyped for the COMT Val158Met (rs4680) and HTR2A T102C (rs6313) genes. Novelty seeking was measured twice, with a 4-year interval, using Cloninger's Temperament and Character Inventory.
Results: The interaction between COMT Val158Met and HTR2A T102C polymorphisms was found to be associated with subscale impulsiveness. T/T carriers of HTR2A T102C polymorphism, that also had Met/Met genotype of COMT Val158Met single nucleotide polymorphism, scored significantly higher on impulsiveness than Val allele carriers (P=0.005).
Conclusion: Our results suggest that the interaction between dopaminergic and serotonergic genes might underlie impulsiveness. Together with earlier research our results also stress the importance of considering novelty seeking as a heterogeneous trait with its subscales having different genetic backgrounds.