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Effects of the MAOA gene and levels of exposure to violence on antisocial outcomes

  • Isabelle Ouellet-Morin (a1), Sylvana M. Côté (a2), Frank Vitaro (a3), Martine Hébert (a4), René Carbonneau (a5), Éric Lacourse (a6), Gustavo Turecki (a7) and Richard E. Tremblay (a8)...

The monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene has been shown to moderate the impact of maltreatment on antisocial behaviour. Replication efforts have, however, yielded inconsistent results.


To investigate whether the interaction between the MAOA gene and violence is present across the full distribution of violence or emerges at higher levels of exposure.


Participants were 327 male members of the Québec Longitudinal Study of Kindergarten Children. Exposure to violence comprised retrospective reports of mother's and father's maltreatment, sexual and physical abuse. Conduct disorder and antisocial personality symptoms were assessed in semi-structured interviews and partner violence, property-violent crimes and arrest were self-reported.


Non-linear interactions between the MAOA gene and violence were detected, suggesting that the genetic moderation may come about once a certain level of violence is experienced.


Future studies should investigate the mechanisms translating substantial violence exposure, which could, subsequently, trigger the expression of genetically based differences in antisocial behaviour.

Corresponding author
Isabelle Ouellet-Morin, PhD, School of Criminology, Université de Montréal Research Center of the Montreal Mental Health University Institute and the Research Group on Child Maladjustment, C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-ville, Montréal QC, H3C 3J7, Canada. Email:
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I.O.-M. is a Canadian Institute of Health Research's New Investigator award holder.

Declaration of interest


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Effects of the MAOA gene and levels of exposure to violence on antisocial outcomes

  • Isabelle Ouellet-Morin (a1), Sylvana M. Côté (a2), Frank Vitaro (a3), Martine Hébert (a4), René Carbonneau (a5), Éric Lacourse (a6), Gustavo Turecki (a7) and Richard E. Tremblay (a8)...
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