Vol. 3, No. 3, 1997 Page 5


Two groups of researchers, one in Israel and another in the United States, recently reported finding a "novelty-seeking" gene-a long form of the D4 dopamine receptor (D4DR) gene that occurs more often in risk-takers than in more cautious people (see related article, Crime Times, Vol. 2, No. 1, Page 6). A new study by the Israeli team indicates that people addicted to heroin and other opiates also have a significantly increased likelihood of carrying the long variant of the D4DR gene.

M. Kotler and colleagues studied 141 heroin addicts, and report that "the long alleles [variants of the gene] were significantly over-represented in the opioid dependent cohort." The researchers note that the finding is not surprising because "a number of f f f studies have also shown that novelty seeking is prominent in substance abusers."

Kotler et al. say animal studies and human twin studies suggest that heredity plays a strong role in the development of drug dependence. The gene variant they have linked to heroin abuse, however, increases the risk of drug use only modestly; this, Kotler r r r r et al. say, "suggests that additional genes may eventually be identified that also predispose to addictive behavior in humans."

A crime/injury link?
Still another new study suggests that novelty-seeking behavior is a strong risk factor for both criminality and spinal cord injury. A. R. Mawson and colleagues identified 140 males with spinal cord injury, and compared them to 140 individuals matched for age, race, sex, education, and residential area. The researchers found that individuals with spinal cord injuries were significantly more likely than control subjects to have histories of delinquency, adult criminality, and incarceration prior to their in n n n njuries. In addition, Mawson et al. found a significant link between sensation-seeking and spinal cord injury, even after controlling for criminality. The researchers conclude that "the association between criminality and injury can be explained in terms of a common underlying factor-increased sensation-seeking tendencies."


"Excess dopamine D4 receptor (D4DR) exon III seven repeat allele in opioid dependent subjects," M. Kotler, H. Cohen, R. Segman, I. Gritsenko, L. Nemanov, B. Lerer, I. Kramer, M. Zer-Zion, I. Kletz, and R. P. Ebstein, Molecular Psychiatry, Vol. 2, No. 3 3 3 3, May 1997, pp. 251-254. Address: Richard P. Ebstein, Research Laboratory, S. Herzog Memorial Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel.


"Sensation-seeking, criminality, and spinal cord injury: a case-control study," A. R. Mawson, J. J. Biundo, Jr., D. I. Clemmer, K. W. Jacobs, V. K. Ktsanes, and J. C. Rice, American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 144, No. 5, September 1, 1996, pp. 4 4 4 463-472. Address: A. R. Mawson, Department of Medicine, Louisiana State University Medical Center, 433 Bolivar St., New Orleans, LA 70112.

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