Background Monoamine neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine) are associated with several psychiatric disorders. Limited evidence suggests that monoamine levels are heritable, but no information concerning genetic relationships among monoamines is available. Further genetic analysis can help explain phenotypic correlations among monoamine levels and might eventually help identify genes involved in response to therapy or risk of psychopathology. Methods Levels of the monoamine metabolites homovanillic acid (HVA), 5-hydroxyindolacetic acid (5-HIAA), and 3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenylglycol (MHPG) were measured in cerebrospinal fluid from 271 baboons (Papio hamadryas). Variance components methods were used to estimate heritabilities, and multivariate analyses were used to estimate genetic correlations (pleiotropy) and environmental correlations between metabolites. Results Each metabolite exhibited significant heritability in baboons (5-HIAA: h2 = .30 ± .17; MHPG: h2 = .36 ± .16; HVA: h2 = .50 ± .19). Multivariate analyses revealed genetic correlations between 5-HIAA and HVA and between HVA and MHPG. Environmental correlations were found between 5-HIAA and HVA and between 5-HIAA and MHPG. Conclusions Overlapping, nonidentical sets of genes influence individual variation in 5-HIAA, MHPG, and HVA levels among baboons. The phenotypic correlation between 5-HIAA and HVA observed in nonhuman primates and humans is likely due to both shared genetic and environmental factors. Genetic analyses of monoamine levels in primates can provide novel information concerning the genetics of variation among humans.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biological Psychiatry