• bulimia nervosa;
  • personality;
  • genes;
  • serotonin;
  • abuse


We recently reported that, among bulimic women, previously abused carriers of the 5HTTLPR S allele showed special propensities towards novelty seeking (implying recklessness or impulsivity) and interpersonal insecurity. We subsequently re-analyzed our data, to examine the bearing of the 5HTTLPR polymorphism and prior sexual or physical maltreatment upon validated, higher-order personality-traits. Ninety women with bulimic syndromes were genotyped for 5HTTLPR “short” (S) and “long” (LG and LA) alleles, and then assessed for eating symptoms, history of sexual or physical abuse, and the higher-order personality traits Emotional Dysregulation, Dissocial Behavior, Inhibition, and Compulsivity. With a classification based on a biallelic model of 5HTTLPR (i.e., presence or absence of at least one S-allele copy), multiple regression indicated a significant proportion of variance in Dissocial Behavior to be explained by an abuse × genotype interaction—greater psychopathology occurring in abused S-allele carriers. A parallel analysis applying a triallelic model of 5HTTLPR (i.e., presence or absence of at least one copy of presumably low-function S or LG alleles) produced a similar pattern, but no statistically significant effect. The finding that bulimic 5HTTLPR S-allele carriers who are previously abused display elevations on Dissocial Behavior corroborates previous observations concerning phenomenological correlates of traumatic stress in 5HTTLPR S allele carriers. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.