Polymorphic variation in the dopamine D4 receptor predicts delay discounting as a function of childhood socioeconomic status: evidence for differential susceptibility.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Inconsistent or null findings among studies associating behaviors on the externalizing spectrum--addictions, impulsivity, risk-taking, novelty-seeking traits--with presence of the 7-repeat allele of a common length polymorphism in the gene encoding the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) may stem from individuals' variable exposures to prominent environmental moderators (gene × environment interaction). Here, we report that relative preference for immediate, smaller rewards over larger rewards delayed in time (delay discounting), a behavioral endophenotype of impulsive decision-making, varied by interaction of DRD4 genotype with childhood socioeconomic status (SES) among 546 mid-life community volunteers. Independent of age, sex, adulthood SES and IQ, participants who were both raised in families of distinctly low SES (low parental education and occupational grade) and carried the DRD4 7-repeat allele discounted future rewards more steeply than like-reared counterparts of alternate DRD4 genotype. In the absence of childhood socioeconomic disadvantage, however, participants carrying the 7-repeat allele discounted future rewards less steeply. This bidirectional association of DRD4 genotype with temporal discounting, conditioned by participants' early life circumstances, accords with a recently proposed developmental model of gene × environment interaction ('differential susceptibility') that posits genetically modulated sensitivity to both adverse and salubrious environmental influences.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Sweitzer, MM; Halder, I; Flory, JD; Craig, AE; Gianaros, PJ; Ferrell, RE; Manuck, SB

Published Date

  • June 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 8 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 499 - 508

PubMed ID

  • 22345368

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3682430

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1749-5024

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/scan/nss020


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England