OBJECTIVES: It has been hypothesized that cerebral neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin could play a role in human romantic bonding. However, no data on the genetic basis of human romantic love are currently available. To address this issue, we looked for associations between markers in neurotransmitter genes (the serotonin transporter gene, 5-HTT; the serotonin receptor 2A, 5HT2A; the dopamine D2 receptor gene, DRD2; and the dopamine D4 receptor gene, DRD4) and the six styles of love as conceptualized by Lee (Eros, Ludus, Storge, Pragma, Mania and Agape).
DESIGN: A total of 350 healthy young adults (165 males and 185 females, mean age: 24.1+/-3.9 years, range 18-32 years) filled the 24-item Love Attitudes Scale (LAS) and were genotyped for the following six polymorphic markers: the serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR), the 5HT2A T102C and C516T polymorphisms, the DRD2 TaqI A and TaqI B variants, and the DRD4 exon 3 VNTR polymorphism.
RESULTS: Statistical analysis revealed a significant association between the DRD2 TaqI A genotypes and "Eros" (a loving style characterized by a tendency to develop intense emotional experiences based on the physical attraction to the partner), as well as between the C516T 5HT2A polymorphism and "Mania" (a possessive and dependent romantic attachment, characterized by self-defeating emotions). These associations were present in both sexes and remained significant even after adjustment for potential confounders.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data provide the first evidence of a possible genetic loading on human loving styles.