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Involvement of DAT1 Gene on Internet Addiction: Cross-Correlations of Methylation Levels in 5′-UTR and 3’-UTR Genotypes, Interact with Impulsivity and Attachment-Driven Quality of Relationships

1
Faculty of Psychology, International Telematic University Uninettuno, I-00186 Rome, Italy
2
Center for Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, I-00161 Rome, Italy
3
Department of Medical-Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Sapienza University of Rome, I-00161 Rome, Italy
4
Faculty of Bioscience & Technology for Food, for Agriculture and for Environment, University of Teramo, I-64100 Teramo, Italy
5
Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, I-00186 Rome, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(21), 7956; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17217956
Received: 11 September 2020 / Revised: 10 October 2020 / Accepted: 23 October 2020 / Published: 29 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Problematic Internet Use: A Biopsychosocial Model)
Internet influences our communication, social and work interactions, entertainment, and many other aspects of life. Even if the original purpose was to simplify our lives, an excessive and/or maladaptive use of it may have negative consequences. The dopamine transporter (DAT1) gene was studied in relation to addictions, including excessive use of the Internet. The crucial role of DAT1 was previously underlined in modulating emotional aspects, such as affiliative behaviors. The present research follows a new approach based on cross-correlation between (de)methylation levels in couples of CpG loci, as previously shown. We investigated the possible relationships between Internet addiction, impulsivity, quality of attachment, DAT1 genotypes (from the 3′-untranslated region (UTR) variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) poly-morphism), and the dynamics of methylation within the 5’-UTR of the DAT1 gene. From a normative sample of 79 youths, we extrapolated three subgroups a posteriori, i.e., one “vulnerable” with high Internet Addiction Test (IAT) scores (and high Barrat Impulsivity Scale (BIS) scores; n = 9) and two “controls’’ with low BIS scores and 10/10 vs. 9/x genotype (n = 12 each). Controls also had a “secure” attachment pattern, while genotypes and attachment styles were undistinguished in the vulnerable subgroup (none showed overt Internet addiction). We found a strongly positive correlation in all groups between CpG2 and CpG3. An unsuspected relationship between the 3’-UTR genotype and a 5’-UTR intra-motif link was revealed by CpG5–CpG6 comparison. The negative correlation between the CpG3–CpG5 positions was quite significant in the control groups (both with genotype 10/10 and with genotype 9/x), whereas a tendency toward positive correlation emerged within the high IAT group. In conclusion, future attention shall be focused on the intra- and inter-motif interactions of methylation on the CpG island at the 5′-UTR of DAT1. View Full-Text
Keywords: methylation; CpG epigenetic marker; 5’-UTR motifs; internet addiction methylation; CpG epigenetic marker; 5’-UTR motifs; internet addiction
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De Nardi, L.; Carpentieri, V.; Pascale, E.; Pucci, M.; D'Addario, C.; Cerniglia, L.; Adriani, W.; Cimino, S. Involvement of DAT1 Gene on Internet Addiction: Cross-Correlations of Methylation Levels in 5′-UTR and 3’-UTR Genotypes, Interact with Impulsivity and Attachment-Driven Quality of Relationships. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 7956.

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