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J Affect Disord. 2011 Dec;135(1-3):56-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2011.03.010. Epub 2011 Mar 24.

Serotonin transporter gene moderates childhood maltreatment's effects on persistent but not single-episode depression: replications and implications for resolving inconsistent results.

Author information

  • 1Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK. rudolf.uher@kcl.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Genetic and environmental factors shape life-long vulnerability to depression, but most gene-environment interaction (G×E) research has focused on cross-sectional assessments rather than life-course phenotypes. This study tests the hypothesis that the G×E involving the length polymorphism in the serotonin-transporter-gene-linked-promoter-region (5-HTTLPR) and childhood maltreatment is specific to depression that runs a persistent course in adulthood.

METHODS:

The hypothesis is tested in two cohorts. Men and women in the Dunedin Study (N=847), New Zealand, followed to age 32 years with 96% retention and women in the E-Risk Study (N=930), England, followed to age 40 years with 96% retention. Diagnoses of past-year major depressive episode were established at four separate assessments. Depression diagnosed on two or more occasions was considered persistent.

RESULTS:

In both cohorts, statistical tests of gene-environment interactions showed positive results for persistent depression but not single-episode depression. Individuals with two short 5-HTTLPR alleles and childhood maltreatment had elevated risk of persistent but not single-episode depression.

LIMITATIONS:

Some cases of recurrent depression may have been misclassified as single-episode due to non-contiguous assessment windows, but this would have a conservative effect on the findings. Chronic and recurrent depression could not be reliably distinguished due to non-contiguous periods of assessment. Therefore, the term persistent depression is used to describe either chronic or recurrent course.

CONCLUSIONS:

The specific effect on persistent depression increases the significance of this G×E for public health. Research that does not distinguish persistent course may underestimate G×E effects and account for some replication failures in G×E research.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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PMID:
21439648
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3752793
Free PMC Article

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