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Arch Med Res. 2001 Jan-Feb;32(1):35-8.

Dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) gene polymorphism in the first psychotic episode.

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Unidad de Genética Molecular Psiquiátrica, Programación Universitaria de Investigación en Salud (PUIS-IMP), División de Investigaciones Clínicas, Instituto Mexicano de Psiquiatría (IMP), Mexico City, Mexico.



Dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) has shown some interesting properties at genetic and possibly functional levels. It has been suggested that some molecular variants of the DRD4 gene (e.g., four and seven alleles) could be implicated in the pathogenesis of psychotic disorders. Additionally, the VNTR polymorphism could be implicated in part of the response to treatment with neuroleptics. This study tested the possible association between the 48-bp tandem repeats in exon 3 of the DRD4 gene and patients experiencing their first psychotic episode.


Patients with a first psychotic episode (FPE, n = 37) were diagnosed and compared with a matched control group (n = 37). The FPE group was subdivided into two categories: those with nonaffective and those with affective psychoses. The variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) region of the DRD4 gene was amplified by PCR procedures. Chi-square statistics and appropriate corrections and adjustments were used for data analysis.


A significantly lower frequency of the four repeat (4-R) carriers in the FPE group was observed. This association was sustained mainly by the affective psychotic group (chi2 = 9.99 df = 2, p = 0.0073). Although these results require testing with stringent methods, it is suggested that the DRD4-4R allele may confer some protection against psychosis, mainly of the affective subtype.

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