Dopamine receptor gene D4 polymorphisms and early sexual onset: Gender and environmental moderation in a sample of African-American youth

Steven M. Kogan, Man Kit Lei, Steven R.H. Beach, Gene H. Brody, Michael Windle, Sunbok Lee, James Mackillop, Yi Fu Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose Early sexual onset and its consequences disproportionately affect African-American youth, particularly male youth. The dopamine receptor D4 gene (DRD4) has been linked to sexual activity and other forms of appetitive behavior, particularly for male youth and in combination with environmental factors (gene × environment [G × E] effects). The differential susceptibility perspective suggests that DRD4 may exert this effect by amplifying the effects of both positive and negative environments. We hypothesized that DRD4 status would amplify the influence of both positive and negative neighborhood environments on early sexual onset among male, but not female, African-Americans. Methods Hypotheses were tested with self-report, biospecimen, and census data from five prospective studies of male and female African-American youth in rural Georgia communities, N = 1,677. Early sexual onset was defined as intercourse before age 14. Results No significant G × E findings emerged for female youth. Male youth with a DRD4 long allele were more likely than those with two DRD4 short alleles to report early sexual onset in negative community environments and not to report early onset in positive community environments. Conclusions Dopaminergic regulation of adolescent sexual behaviors may operate differently by gender. DRD4 operated as an environmental amplification rather than a vulnerability factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-240
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume55
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Keywords

  • Adolescent behavior
  • Databases as topic
  • Gene-environment interaction
  • Minority groups
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4
  • Sexual behavior

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