Poor decision-making is inherent to several psychiatric conditions for which a genetic basis may exist. We previously showed that healthy female volunteers homozygous for the short allele (s/s) of the serotonin transporter length polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) chose more often cards from disadvantageous decks in the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), which measures decision-making, than long (l) allele carriers. The 5-HTTLPR and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val(158) Met polymorphism affect the same set of neuronal structures. Therefore, we explored the effect of the (COMT) Val(158) Met polymorphism on IGT performance and its interaction with the 5-HTTLPR in the same subjects in this study. We observed that subjects homozygous for methionine (Met/Met) chose more disadvantageously than subjects homozygous for valine (Val/Val). s/s-Met/Met-subjects appeared to show the poorest IGT performance of all possible combinations of 5-HTTLPR and COMT allelic variants. Using the Expectancy-Valence model, no differences were found for the three different 5-HTTLPR or COMT genotypes regarding (i) attention to wins versus losses, (ii) updating rate, or (iii) response consistency. However, subjects with at least one Met-allele were paying more attention to wins than subjects with no Met-alleles. We discuss whether a common neuronal mechanism relates to s- and Met-allele-related deficits in updating and/or processing of choice outcome to guide subsequent choices in this gamble-based test.
Original languageEnglish
Journal publication date2009

ID: 295606