Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in American Journal of Hypertension 18 (2005), pp. 1206-1210; doi: 10.101 6/j.amjhyper.2005.04.010 Copyright © 2005 by the American Journal of Hypertension, Ltd.; published by Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


Background: Dopamine receptor genes are candidates for hypertension susceptibility. Locally released dopamine increases renal sodium excretion, and defective renal dopamine receptor signaling has been shown to play a role in hypertension. Dopamine-4 receptors are expressed in juxtaglomerular and cortical collecting cells, where dopamine activation could alter sodium and water metabolism and affect blood pressure (BP). The dopamine-4 receptor (DRD4) gene has a 16 amino acid (48 base pairs [bp]) repeat polymorphism located in exon 3 where a G-protein binding area is encoded. The long allele (defined as at least one 7 to 10 repeat) has been associated with the personality trait Novelty Seeking and with substance abuse, but associations between dopamine-4 receptor polymorphisms and BP have not been reported.
Methods: We genotyped 479 female and 385 male subjects of white ethnicity at the DRD4 repeat polymorphism site and classified each subject as having either the long or short genotype.
Results: We found associations between the DRD4 long allele and increased systolic BP (P = .031), diastolic BP (P = .034), and a history of regular alcohol use (P = .008). Furthermore, for systolic BP (P = .009) and pulse pressure (P = .002), we found evidence for an interaction between dopamine-4 receptor alleles and age, indicating that the effects of dopamine-4 receptor variants on BP increase with age.
Conclusion: In this white population, the long variant of the DRD4 gene is associated with a 3-mm Hg higher systolic and 2-mm Hg higher diastolic BP.