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Alcohol Alcohol. 2018 Jan 1;53(1):57-63. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agx077.

Oxytocin Genotype Moderates the Impact of Social Support on Psychiatric Distress in Alcohol-Dependent Patients.

Author information

1
University of Michigan Addiction Research Center, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
2
Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
3
Department of Psychiatry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
4
Department of Genetics, Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
5
Department of Psychiatry, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland.

Abstract

Aims:

The social environment strongly influences individual mental health. Individuals with strong social support systems tend to experience higher levels of well-being, lower levels of psychological distress and exhibit fewer psychiatric symptoms. However, there is a significant degree of individual variability as to the extent to which social support is beneficial to overall mental health. From a neurobiological perspective, it is suggested that the social hormone, oxytocin, may moderate the favorable effects of social interaction. To explore this possibility, we evaluated oxytocin genotype, social support and psychological health in a group of individuals diagnosed with DSM-IV alcohol dependence.

Methods:

The associations between OXT genotype, social support and psychological health were analyzed in data from 269 adults diagnosed with DSM-IV alcohol dependence (25% female) admitted into residential treatment programs and outpatient centers in Warsaw, Poland.

Results:

In line with past observations, we noted that psychiatric distress scores were negatively correlated with social support. Extending these observations, we uncovered a significant moderating effect of OXT genotype (rs2740210) on the relationship between social support and psychiatric distress. While G carriers displayed the predicted negative relationship between social support and psychiatric distress, T homozygotes failed to exhibit such a relationship.

Conclusion:

Genetically driven variation in oxytocin system functioning may influence the degree to which the beneficial effects of social support are felt in this population. These results have direct clinical relevance as enhancing social engagement to improve mental health may prove to be a less effective strategy in some patients owing to intrinsic factors.

Short summary:

The associations between oxytocin genotype, social support, and psychological health were analyzed in data from 269 adults diagnosed with DSM-IV alcohol dependence. A significant moderating effect of OXT genotype (rs2740210) on the relationship between social support and psychiatric distress was detected.

PMID:
29040351
PMCID:
PMC5860582
DOI:
10.1093/alcalc/agx077
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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