The association between the serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters and personality traits

Giuseppe Delvecchio, M. Bellani, Alfredo Carlo Altamura, Paolo Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evidence from previous studies has reported that complex traits, including psychiatric disorders, are moderately to highly heritable. Moreover, it has also been shown that specific personality traits may increase the risk to develop mental illnesses. Therefore the focus of the research shifted towards the identification of the biological mechanisms underpinning these traits by exploring the effects of a constellation of genetic polymorphisms in healthy subjects. Indeed, studying the effect of genetic variants in normal personality provides a unique means for identifying candidate genes which may increase the risk for psychiatric disorders. In this review, we discuss the impact of two of the most frequently studied genetic polymorphisms on personality in healthy subjects, the 5-HTT polymorphism of the serotonin transporter and the DRD2/DRD4 polymorphisms of the D2/D4 dopamine's receptors. The main aims are: (a) to highlight that the study of candidate genes provides a fruitful ground for the identification of the biological underpinnings of personality without, though, reaching a general consensus about the strength of this relationship; and (b) to outline that the research in personality genetics should be expanded to provide a clearer picture of the heritability of personality traits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-112
Number of pages4
JournalEpidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Attitudes
  • biological markers
  • neurophysiology
  • risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology


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