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Keywords:

  • Alcohol;
  • aggression;
  • experiment;
  • gene–alcohol interaction;
  • oxytocin;
  • OXTR;
  • Response Choice Aggression Paradigm

We explored if the disposition to react with aggression while alcohol intoxicated was moderated by polymorphic variants of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR). Twelve OXTR polymorphisms were genotyped in 116 Finnish men [aged 18–30, M = 22.7, standard deviation (SD) = 2.4] who were randomly assigned to an alcohol condition in which they received an alcohol dose of 0.7 g pure ethanol/kg body weight or a placebo condition. Aggressive behavior was measured using a laboratory paradigm in which it was operationalized as the level of aversive noise administered to a fictive opponent. No main effects of the polymorphisms on aggressive behavior were found after controlling for multiple testing. The interactive effects between alcohol and two of the OXTR polymorphisms (rs4564970 and rs1488467) on aggressive behavior were nominally significant and remained significant for the rs4564970 when controlled for multiple tests. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first experimental study suggesting interactive effects of specific genetic variants and alcohol on aggressive behavior in humans.