Association of the COMT Val108/158Met genotype with professional career and education: The Val-allele is more frequent in managers and in enterprising occupations
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Catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) is a key player in neurotransmission by catecholamines, and the functional COMT Val108/158Met polymorphism is strongly related to prefrontal reactivity and to dopamine levels. As dopamine is a critically important neurotransmitter in cognition, emotion and motivation, we addressed the potential impact of this genotype on life course by examining its association with being in enterprising professions. The parents (n = 1410) of the target subjects in the Estonian Children Personality Behaviour and Health Study reported their current occupation, and those classified as enterprising (n = 197; 18%) were compared with the remaining group. Additionally, the subjects self-classified themselves according to the International Standard Classification of Occupations and the group of managers (6.2%) was compared to other groups. We found that the COMT Val108/158Met Val/Val homozygotes were overrepresented among enterprising occupations and the Val-allele carriers among self-classified managers. While several measures associated with the Val/Val homozygosity were also associated with enterprising occupation, no simple path from the genotype to enterprising occupations emerged from structural equation models, suggesting that the COMT Val108/158Met genotype contributes to choices of profession via multiple interactive features. We also reproduced a previous finding that the COMT genotype is associated with educational attainment in a gender-dependent manner.