Association of Polymorphisms of Serotonin Transporter (5HTTLPR) and 5-HT2C Receptor Genes with Criminal Behavior in Russian Criminal Offenders

Valentina A. Toshchakova, Yalda Bakhtiari, Alexander V. Kulikov, Sergey I. Gusev, Marina V. Trofimova, Olga Yu Fedorenko, Ekaterina V. Mikhalitskaya, Nina K. Popova, Nikolay A. Bokhan, Johannes E. Hovens, Anton J.M. Loonen, Bob Wilffert, Svetlana A. Ivanova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Human aggression is a heterogeneous behavior with biological, psychological, and social backgrounds. As the biological mechanisms that regulate aggression are components of both reward-seeking and adversity-fleeing behavior, these phenomena are difficult to disentangle into separate neurochemical processes. Nevertheless, evidence exists linking some forms of aggression to aberrant serotonergic neurotransmission. We determined possible associations between 6 serotonergic neurotransmission-related gene variants and severe criminal offenses. Methods: Male Russian prisoners who were convicted for murder (n = 117) or theft (n = 77) were genotyped for variants of the serotonin transporter (5HTTLPR), tryptophan hydroxylase, tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase, or type 2C (5-HT2C) receptor genes and compared with general-population male controls (n = 161). Prisoners were psychologically phenotyped using the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory and the Beck Depression Inventory. Results: No differences were found between murderers and thieves either concerning genotypes or concerning psychological measures. Comparison of polymorphism distribution between groups of prisoners and controls revealed highly significant associations of 5HTTLPR and 5-HTR2C (rs6318) gene polymorphisms with being convicted for criminal behavior. Conclusions: The lack of biological differences between the 2 groups of prisoners indicates that the studied 5HT-related genes do not differentiate between the types of crimes committed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-210
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • 5-HT2C receptor
  • Aggression
  • Genotype
  • Prisoners
  • Serotonin transporter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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