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Interaction between prenatal stress and dopamine D4 receptor genotype in predicting aggression and cortisol levels in young adults


Buchmann, Arlette F; Zohsel, Katrin; Blomeyer, Dorothea; Hohm, Erika; Hohmann, Sarah; Jennen-Steinmetz, Christine; Treutlein, Jens; Becker, Katja; Banaschewski, Tobias; Schmidt, Martin H; Esser, Günter; Brandeis, Daniel; Poustka, Luise; Zimmermann, Ulrich S; Laucht, Manfred (2014). Interaction between prenatal stress and dopamine D4 receptor genotype in predicting aggression and cortisol levels in young adults. Psychopharmacology, 231(16):3089-3097.

Abstract

RATIONALE: Considerable evidence suggests that genetic factors combine with environmental influences to impact on the development of aggressive behavior. A genetic variant that has repeatedly been reported to render individuals more sensitive to the presence of adverse experiences, including stress exposure during fetal life, is the seven-repeat allele of the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) gene.
OBJECTIVES: The present investigation concentrated on the interplay of prenatal maternal stress and DRD4 genotype in predicting self-reported aggression in young adults. As disruption of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system has been discussed as a pathophysiological pathway to aggression, cortisol stress reactivity was additionally examined.
METHODS: As part of an epidemiological cohort study, prenatal maternal stress was assessed by maternal interview 3 months after childbirth. Between the ages of 19 and 23 years, 298 offspring (140 males, 158 females) completed the Young Adult Self-Report to measure aggressive behavior and were genotyped for the DRD4 gene. At 19 years, 219 participants additionally underwent the Trier Social Stress Test to determine cortisol reactivity.
RESULTS: Extending earlier findings with respect to childhood antisocial behavior, the results revealed that, under conditions of higher prenatal maternal stress, carriers of the DRD4 seven-repeat allele displayed more aggression in adulthood (p = 0.032). Moreover, the same conditions which seemed to promote aggression were found to predict attenuated cortisol secretion (p = 0.028).
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to indicate a long-term impact of prenatal stress exposure on the cortisol stress response depending on DRD4 genotype.

Abstract

RATIONALE: Considerable evidence suggests that genetic factors combine with environmental influences to impact on the development of aggressive behavior. A genetic variant that has repeatedly been reported to render individuals more sensitive to the presence of adverse experiences, including stress exposure during fetal life, is the seven-repeat allele of the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) gene.
OBJECTIVES: The present investigation concentrated on the interplay of prenatal maternal stress and DRD4 genotype in predicting self-reported aggression in young adults. As disruption of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system has been discussed as a pathophysiological pathway to aggression, cortisol stress reactivity was additionally examined.
METHODS: As part of an epidemiological cohort study, prenatal maternal stress was assessed by maternal interview 3 months after childbirth. Between the ages of 19 and 23 years, 298 offspring (140 males, 158 females) completed the Young Adult Self-Report to measure aggressive behavior and were genotyped for the DRD4 gene. At 19 years, 219 participants additionally underwent the Trier Social Stress Test to determine cortisol reactivity.
RESULTS: Extending earlier findings with respect to childhood antisocial behavior, the results revealed that, under conditions of higher prenatal maternal stress, carriers of the DRD4 seven-repeat allele displayed more aggression in adulthood (p = 0.032). Moreover, the same conditions which seemed to promote aggression were found to predict attenuated cortisol secretion (p = 0.028).
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to indicate a long-term impact of prenatal stress exposure on the cortisol stress response depending on DRD4 genotype.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:August 2014
Deposited On:23 Jan 2015 13:59
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 10:45
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0033-3158
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-014-3484-7
PubMed ID:24553580

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