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It has been proposed that neurotransmitter receptor expression in peripheral immune cells reflects expression of these receptors in the brain. To test this "peripheral marker hypothesis", we compared mRNA expression of the dopamine receptors D3 (DRD3) and D4 (DRD4) in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) to personality traits assessed with the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) in 50 healthy and unmedicated Caucasian individuals. A shared variance of at least 17% (p=0.016) between DRD3 mRNA expression in PBL and the personality trait of persistence was found. As personality traits have been generally assumed polygenic with a single gene accounting for rarely more than 1-2% of observed variance in a trait, this result lends further support to the peripheral marker hypothesis for DRD3 mRNA expression in PBL. It may also suggest a significant role for the DRD3 in the neurobiology of persistence and point to an interesting link between personality and functioning of the immune system.

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