, Volume 187, Issue 1, pp 30-35
Date: 27 Apr 2006

Involvement of a polymorphism in the 5-HT2A receptor gene in impulsive behavior

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Rationale and objective

Impulsive behavior has been suggested to occur due to a dysfunction of serotonergic 5-HT neurotransmission. After evaluation by a self-reporting measure, a polymorphism in the promoter of the 5-HT2A receptor gene has been proposed to underlie the impulsive behavior; however, this hypothesis is not convincing. In this study, we examined whether this 5-HT2A receptor gene polymorphism is involved in impulsive aggression by evaluating a behavioral task (go/no-go task) in normal volunteers.

Materials and methods

The polymorphism of the 5-HT2A receptor gene promoter was analyzed by polymerase chain reaction using lymphocytes from 71 volunteers. Impulsivity was defined as the number of commission errors (responding when one should not) made during a go/no-go task (a larger number of commission errors indicates greater difficulty in inhibiting the behavior).


The subjects in the group with the A-1438A allele of the 5-HT2A receptor gene (A-1438A group) made more commission errors under the punishment–reward condition in a go/no-go task than those in the G-1438G group.


These results suggest the possible involvement of the A-1438A polymorphism of the 5-HT2A receptor gene in impulsive behavior; this was evaluated using a behavioral task measure that can directly reveal the traits of human impulsive behavior.