Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 116, Issue 10, pp 1323–1334 | Cite as

Negative emotionality: monoamine oxidase B gene variants modulate personality traits in healthy humans

  • Andrea M. Dlugos
  • Abraham A. Palmer
  • Harriet de Wit
Biological Psychiatry - Original Article


Monoamine oxidase A and B (MAOA and MAOB) appear to be involved in the pathogenesis of Major Depression, and vulnerability of Major Depression is associated with personality traits relating to positive and negative affect. This study aimed to investigate associations between MAOA and MAOB polymorphisms and personality traits of positive and negative emotionality in healthy volunteers, to elucidate mechanisms underlying personality and the risk for depression. Healthy Caucasian volunteers (N = 150) completed the Multiphasic Personality Questionnaire (MPQ), which includes independent superfactors of Positive Emotionality and Negative Emotionality. Participants were genotyped for 8 MAOA and 12 MAOB single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Association analyses for both SNPs and haplotypes were performed using the permutation approach implemented in PLINK. Negative Emotionality was significantly associated with the two highly linked MAOB polymorphisms rs10521432 and rs6651806 (p < 0.002). Findings were extended in haplotype analyses. For MAOB the 4-SNP haplotype GACG formed from rs1799836, rs10521432, rs6651806 and rs590551 was significantly related to lower Negative Emotionality scores (p < 0.002). MAOA was not related to personality in this study. Our finding provides the first evidence that MAOB polymorphisms influence levels of negative emotionality in healthy human volunteers. If confirmed, these results could lead to a better understanding of personality traits and inter-individual susceptibility developing psychiatric disorders such as major depression.


Negative emotionality Inter-individual differences Monoamine oxidase B Human Polymorphisms Depression 



We gratefully thank Dr. Judith Badner, Dr. Andrew Skol, Shen Pei-Hong, Dr. David Goldman, and Dr. Colin Hodgkinson for their invaluable input and technical support. We also thank Ms. Margo Meverden and Ms. Patricia Kriegel for their skillful technical assistance. This work was supported by DA021336, DA02812 and MO RR00055.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea M. Dlugos
    • 1
  • Abraham A. Palmer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Harriet de Wit
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral NeuroscienceThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human GeneticsThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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