Genetic covariation of neuroticism with monoamine oxidase activity and smoking

Katherine M. Kirk, John B. Whitfield, Dona Pang, Andrew C. Heath, Nicholas G. Martin

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Variation in the personality trait of neuroticism is known to be affected by genetic influences, but despite a number of association studies, the genes involved have not yet been characterized. In a recent study of platelet monoamine oxidase in 1,551 twin subjects, we found a significant association between monoamine oxidase activity and scores on the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire neuroticism scale. Further analyses presented here indicate that both neuroticism and monoamine oxidase activity are associated with variation in smoking habits, and that adjusting for the effect of smoking strengthens the association between MAO and neuroticism. Analysis of the genetic and environmental sources of covariation between neuroticism, smoking, and monoamine oxidase activity show that approximately 8% of the genetic variance in neuroticism is due to the same additive genetic effects that contribute to variation in monoamine oxidase activity, suggesting that variation in neuroticism is associated in part with aspects of serotonin metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)700-706
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics - Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 8 2001


  • Cigarette consumption
  • MAO activity
  • Neuroticism
  • Smoking
  • Twins


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