Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The "Warrior Gene"

Genetic Ramifications:
  • Rapid Processing of dynamic stimuli under stressful conditions
  • At the cost of Memory and Attention to details
  • Higher error rate
  • Ability enhancement triggered by Dopamine release
  • Higher resistance to pain
  • More easily Hypnotized
  • Less affected by Placebos
  • More likely to develop schizophrenia
"rs4680 (Val158Met) is a well studied SNP in the COMT gene. 23andMe blog summarizes them as
  • rs4680(A) = Worrier. Met, more exploratory, lower COMT enzymatic activity, therefore higher dopamine levels; lower pain threshold, enhanced vulnerability to stress, yet also more efficient at processing information under most conditions 
  • rs4680(G) = Warrior. Val, less exploratory, higher COMT enzymatic activity, therefore lower dopamine levels; higher pain threshold, better stress resiliency, albeit with a modest reduction in executive cognition performance under most conditions 
Roughly speaking, the predominant wisdom (known colloquially as the warrior/worrier hypothesis; summary at [PMID 17008817]) posits that people with Val alleles have increased COMT activity and lower prefrontal extracellular dopamine compared with those with the Met substitution. Val158 alleles may be associated with an advantage in the processing of aversive stimuli (warrior strategy), while Met158 alleles may be associated with an advantage in memory and attention tasks (worrier strategy). Under conditions of increased dopamine release (eg, stress), individuals with Val158 alleles may have improved dopaminergic transmission and better performance, while individuals with Met158 alleles may have less efficient neurotransmission and worse performance. Some evidence suggests that Val158 alleles are associated with schizophrenia, while Met158 alleles are associated with anxiety."