The Risky Allele: Association Between a Serotonin Transporter Polymorphism, Novelty Seeking, Alcohol Use, And Drunk Driving in College Students.

Carmen Roland, Zahra Ali

Abstract


Sixty percent of college students in the U.S. consumed alcohol in the past month and over half of those that do also partake in binge drinking 18. In 2014, 31% of deaths due to car accidents were caused by alcohol consumption3. Thus, drunk driving, and alcohol use on college campuses is an issue of continuing concern.  The current study aims to uncover possible associations between the polymorphism in the serotonin transporter promoter region (5-HTTLPR), the novelty seeking (NS) personality trait, cognitive assessment of risk, and risk taking behavior. While research has examined NS, drunk driving, alcohol use, and the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism individually7,12, 26, 27, this is the first study to our knowledge to examine these variables in one sample. In addition, the Southeastern United States and Atlanta area are unique demographic regions which could yield unique results. Data was obtained through DNA samples (cheek swabs), and completed questionnaires from student volunteers (n=201). A significant negative correlation was found between the risk assessment of heavy alcohol consumption and frequency of engagement in males (r=-0.38, p<0.05) (n=62), but not females (r=-0.08, p>0.05) (n=138). Preliminary genotyping indicates that there is no difference between the LL (M = 17.6 ± 7.8), LS (M = 17.3 ± 6.4), and SS (M = 16.6 ± 7.2) genotypes and their novelty seeking scores (p>0.05) (n=42). Genotyping continues and will be completed in the near future.


Keywords


Serotonin Transporter Polymorphism; Novelty Seeking; Alcohol Use; Drunk Driving

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