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Am J Psychiatry. 2006 Jun;163(6):1019-25.

Interaction between MAO-A genotype and maltreatment in the risk for conduct disorder: failure to confirm in adolescent patients.

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  • 1Institute for Behavioral Genetics, UCB 447, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80301, USA.



Childhood maltreatment is a potent risk factor for subsequent aggressive and criminal behavior. A recent study suggested that the relationship between maltreatment and antisocial behavior may be moderated by a genetic vulnerability conferred by a functional polymorphism in the MAO-A gene. The authors investigated whether these findings would generalize to a clinical cohort of adolescents, examining whether there was a stronger association between maltreatment and conduct disorder severity in patients carrying the low MAO-A activity allele.


Male adolescent patients (N=247) entering residential or intensive day treatment for persistent conduct and substance use problems were examined. Conduct disorder severity was indexed by a lifetime count of DSM-IV criteria obtained through structured psychiatric interviews. Maltreatment scores were derived from summing neglect and abuse events reported to have occurred before age 11.


Neglect, verbal/psychological abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse were prevalent among patients. Although level of maltreatment and lifetime conduct disorder symptoms were significantly correlated, no genetic-environmental interaction with genotype for maltreatment was found.


The results of the current study do not support the hypothesis that a polymorphism in the gene encoding MAO-A contributes to the genetic risk for conduct disorder.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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