Navigation Links
Sociological research shows combined impact of genetics, social factors on delinquency

CHAPEL HILL, NC In one of the first studies to link molecular genetic variants to adolescent delinquency, sociological research published in the August issue of the American Sociological Review identifies three genetic predictorsof serious and violent delinquencythat gain predictive precision when considered together with social influences, such as family, friends and school processes.

Sociologists from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill explored the interaction of genetics and social influences and identified three genetic polymorphisms thatwhen examined in the context of modulating social controlsare significant predictors of delinquency. These findings about geneenvironment interactions suggest that certain genotypes and specific social control influences (e.g., family characteristics and processes; popularity and friendship characteristics; and school attendance factors) are mutually dependent on delinquency.

While many behavioral studies of geneenvironment interactions typically examine the relationship of a single factor (e.g., child abuse, stress) to genes, the present research is unique in that it systematically examines layers of social context simultaneously (i.e., family dynamics, peer relations, and school-related variables). The study uses regression analysis to reveal non-intuitive and complex relations among the researched variables.

"While genetics appear to influence delinquency, social influences such as family, friends and school seem to impact the expression of certain genetic variants," said Guang Guo, the study's lead author and a professor of sociology and faculty fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's Carolina Population Center and Carolina Center for Genomic Sciences. "Positive social influences appear to reduce the delinquency-increasing effect of a genetic variant, whereas the effect of these genetic variants is amplified in the absence of social controls."

"Our research confirms that genetic effects are not deterministic," Guo said. "Gene expression may depend heavily on the environment."

The three genetic polymorphisms that predict delinquency include: (1) the 30-base pair (bp) promoter-region with a variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) in the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene, (2) the 40-bp VNTR in the dopamine transporter 1 (DAT1) gene and (3) the Taq1 polymorphism in the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) gene. MAOA regulates several brain neurotransmitters important in behavioral motivation, aggression, emotion and cognition (e.g., serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine).

Among the findings, the research suggests a conditional interaction between repeating a school grade and the MAOA*2 repeat (2R) allele in adolescent boys. For those who did not have the 2R allele, repeating a grade was significantly correlated with serious delinquency, but for those who had this 2R allele and who repeated a grade, the propensity for serious delinquency increased dramatically.

The study also indicates a link between the DRD2 gene and having daily family meals. Daily meals with one or two parents are a powerful moderator for the effect of the DRD2 gene.

"Most delinquent and violent behaviors are considered complex," Guo said. "Understanding these behaviors requires understanding both their socioeconomic-cultural components and their genetic components."

The correlation of social and genetic effects on delinquency suggests the need for the social sciences to incorporate genetic evidence in this area of study, according to Guo. The implications of these findings also raise important questions for public policy.


Contact: Jackie Cooper
American Sociological Association

Related biology news :

1. Louisiana Tech researchers feature drug reformulation in prestigious journal
2. UCLA researchers locate and image prostate cancer as it spreads to lymph nodes
3. UCSB researcher leads worldwide study on marine fossil diversity
4. National Institutes of Health award Williams professor $217,710 research grant
5. Charcot-marie-tooth disease research funding
6. Glenn Foundation for Medical Research commits $5 million to study aging
7. Researchers catch ion channels in their opening act
8. UGA researchers discover mechanism that explains how cancer enzyme winds up on ends of chromosomes
9. Researchers hack final part of the immune system code
10. Revolutionary chefs? Not likely, shows physics research
11. Scripps research scientists reveal key structure from ebola virus
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/18/2015)... York , November 18, 2015 ... Research has published a new market report titled  Gesture ... Trends, and Forecast, 2015 - 2021. According to the report, ... 2014 and is anticipated to reach US$29.1 bn by ... 2021. North America dominated ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... , Nov. 17, 2015 Pressure BioSciences, ... in the development and sale of broadly enabling, pressure ... life sciences industry, today announced it has received gross ... $5 million Private Placement (the "Offering"), increasing the total ...  One or more additional closings are expected in the ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... --  Growing need for low-cost, easy to use, ... the way for use of biochemical sensors for ... clinical, agricultural, environmental, food and defense applications. Presently, ... applications, however, their adoption is increasing in agricultural, ... on improving product quality and growing need to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015  HUYA Bioscience International, the ... pharmaceutical innovations, today announced it has signed ... Fund (KDDF) to foster collaboration between KDDF and HUYA ... commercialization of healthcare products for the global market. ... important source of new innovative preclinical and clinical stage ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Florida and MAGDEBURG, Germany , ... of NeuroRehabilitation (ECNR) in Vienna, Austria ... 3rd European Congress of NeuroRehabilitation (ECNR) in ... --> NovaVision, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vycor ... European version of its Internet-delivered NovaVision Therapy Suite at the ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Israel , Nov. 30, 2015 BrainStorm ... developer of adult stem cell technologies for neurodegenerative diseases, today ... been awarded an additional grant of approximately $735,000 from ... This grant, the second this year, brings the total awarded ... million (approximately NIS7 million).  ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Pittcon is pleased to ... presentations offered in symposia, oral sessions, workshops, awards, and posters. The core ... of applications such as, but not limited to, biotechnology, biomedical, drug discovery, environmental, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: