Brain oxytocin and dopamine systems interact to modulate social cognitive behavior. Whether the interactions are modulated by oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene variations remains unclear. Considering the dopamine transporter (DAT) availability as an endophenotype and the degree of dopamine-mediated neuroticism as a phenotype of the OXTR genotypes, the current molecular imaging study used [99mTc]TRODAT-1 single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) to measure the striatal DAT availability and the 57-item Maudsley Personality Inventory to measure neuroticism personality traits in healthy individuals to investigate (A) the correlation between the rs53576 (G/A) of OXTR and the striatal DAT availability, (B) the correlation between the peripheral oxytocin level and striatal DAT availability among different OXTR rs53576 (G/A) genotypes, and (C) whether neuroticism traits could be modified by oxytocin in certain OXTR rs53576 genotypes. The results showed that the striatal DAT availability in the AG+GG group was significantly lower than that in the AA group (2.08±0.47 vs. 1.90±0.32, p=0.04). Only individuals with one or two copies of the G allele of rs53576 showed a negative correlation between DAT availability and oxytocin level (r=-0.41, p=0.002). Furthermore, the oxytocin×DAT interaction was significantly correlated with the MPI neuroticism score in the AA group. Further analyses showed that the DAT availability was correlated with the neuroticism score only in the AA group with a low oxytocin level (r=0.74, p=0.002). The results indicated that the OXTR rs53576 is connected with the striatal DAT availability in vivo and modulates the interactions between the oxytocinergic and dopaminergic systems. Carriers with a specific rs53576 OXTR genotype may present a greater biological sensitivity as well as stress reactivity in terms of environmental adaptation.
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