DOI: 10.3390/ijms25010532 ISSN: 1422-0067

Analysis of the Methylation Level of the DAT1 Dopamine Transporter Gene in Patients Addicted to Stimulants, Taking into Account an Analysis of Personality Traits

Remigiusz Recław, Milena Lachowicz, Krzysztof Chmielowiec, Jolanta Chmielowiec, Aleksandra Strońska-Pluta, Michał Tomasz Kowalski, Bartosz Kudliński, Anna Grzywacz
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Spectroscopy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine
  • Catalysis

Drug addiction is a chronic biochemical drug use disorder that affects the human brain and behavior and leads to the uncontrolled use of legal or illicit drugs. It has been shown that three factors are involved in the development of addiction: genetic factors, a diverse environment, and the effect of medication on gene expression. The comprehensive approach and holistic analysis of the problem are due to the multigenic and multifactorial nature of addiction. Dopamine, one of the major neurotransmitters in the brain, is believed to be the “culprit” that leads to a drug abuse-induced “high”. That is why, in our research, we focused mainly on the genes related to dopaminergic reuptake. In the present study, we chose methylation of the DAT1 dopamine transporter gene based on molecular reasons related to the dopaminergic theory of addiction. This study included two groups: 226 stimulant-dependent and 290 non-stimulant-dependent subjects. The analysis consisted of a case–control comparison of people addicted to psychostimulants compared to a control group of healthy and non-addicted people. There were differences in the levels of statistical significance between the groups. Our research shows lower methylation of islands 1, 9, and 14 in addicted people and greater methylation of islands 32 and 33. The difference in individual CpG methylation islands of the gene under study provides valuable information about the DNA methylation process in patients addicted to psychostimulants. Pearson’s linear correlation analysis in stimulant dependence showed a negative correlation between total methylation island levels and the NEO-FFI Neuroticism scale. In subjects with neuroticism, the methylation level was statistically significantly lower. Pearson’s linear correlation analysis of stimulant-dependent subjects showed a positive correlation between total methylation island levels and the NEO-FFI Openness scale and the NEO-FFI Conscientiousness scale.

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