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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2000 Jul;25(5):479-96.

Neuroendocrine correlates of temperamental traits in humans.

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  • 1Centro Studi Farmacotossicodipendenze, SER.T., AUSL di Parma, Via Spalato 2, 43100, Parma, Italy.


Studies investigating temperament traits in humans and their biological correlates have found high levels of novelty seeking (NS) linked with dopaminergic system changes, and particularly a deficit of dopamine transporter. Harm avoidance and reward dependence, on the other hand, appeared to be associated, respectively with serotonin and noradrenaline changes. In the present study, we have investigated the dopaminergic (DA), serotonergic (5-HT), and noradrenergic (NE) functions in healthy volunteers by challenging the monoamine systems with the DA agonist bromocriptine, the 5-HT agonist D-fenfluramine, and the NE agonist clonidine, respectively. Parallel to this investigation, we examined the temperament traits of our subjects by measuring NS, harm avoidance (HA) and reward dependence (RD) using the 'Three-dimensional Personality Questionnaire' (TPQ). The aims of the study were to see whether or not the monoamine functions were correlated with temperament traits. Bromocriptine challenge induced a significant GH increase and a significant suppression of PRL. D-fenfluramine test significantly increased PRL and cortisol plasma levels and Clonidine test induced a significant rise in GH values. NS scores showed a significant direct correlation with brom-stimulated GH values (r=0.426, P<0.05) and a significant inverse correlation with brom-inhibited PRL values (r=-0.498, P<0.01). HA scores correlated significantly with D-fen-stimulated PRL and CORT AUCs, (PRL: r=0.424, P<0.05; CORT: r=0. 595, P<0.005). RD scores correlated positively with clon-stimulated GH values (r=0.55; F=8.6; P<0.01) and negatively with brom-inhibited-PRL AUCs (r=-0.439, P<0.05). Our data support Cloninger theory concerning the biological correlates of temperamental traits, and evidence the link between the neuroendocrine responses to dynamic challenges and stable temperament features.

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