Systematic meta-analyses and field synopsis of genetic association studies of violence and aggression

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A large number of candidate gene studies for aggression and violence have been conducted. Successful identification of associations between genetic markers and aggression would contribute to understanding the neurobiology of antisocial behavior and potentially provide useful tools for risk prediction and therapeutic targets for high-risk groups of patients and offenders. We systematically reviewed the literature and assessed the evidence on genetic association studies of aggression and related outcomes in order to provide a field synopsis. We searched PubMed and Huge Navigator databases and sought additional data through reviewing reference lists and correspondence with investigators. Genetic association studies were included if outcome data on aggression or violent behavior either as a binary outcome or as a quantitative trait were provided. From 1331 potentially relevant investigations, 185 studies constituting 277 independent associations on 31 genes fulfilled the predetermined selection criteria. Data from variants investigated in three or more samples were combined in meta-analyses and potential sources of heterogeneity were investigated using subgroup analyses. In the primary analyses, which used relaxed inclusion criteria, we found no association between any polymorphism analyzed and aggression at the 5% level of significance. Subgroup analyses, including by severity of outcome, age group, characteristics of the sample and ethnicity, did not demonstrate any consistent findings. Current evidence does not support the use of such genes to predict dangerousness or as markers for therapeutic interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-477
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


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