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Unread April 24th, 2007, 03:46 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Default Good Mothers and Short Alleles

JW-Psychiatry is almost an essential read for me and a subscription (about $120) gives you access not only reviews of papers in psychiatry but also about a dozen other medical specialties. This latest review is by the distinguished Barbara Geller. The interpretive problems, however, are subtle: I hope that hers is correct because I like happy endings and because it is consistent with Steven Suomi's findings with young rhesus monkeys. Nasty mothers have short alleles for managing serotonin and so do their offspring. Insert a competent mother and hyperactive, impulsive, slow developers have better outcomes.

Good Mothering, Good Mood -- For Some Nurturance during childhood may protect against depression in adults with certain serotonin-receptor polymorphisms.
By Barbara Geller, MD


"Although researchers have found interactions between serotonin-transporter polymorphisms and the environment to have an impact on depression, we know less about the role of other serotonin-related genes. These researchers
focused on polymorphisms in the serotonin-receptor 2A gene (HTR2A).

"Participants were from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study, which followed 3596 individuals for 21 years (age range at baseline, 3-18 years). Researchers randomly selected 1593 subjects for genotyping of the T102C
polymorphism; data from 1212 are included in this report. Maternal nurturance was measured on a four-item scale at baseline and 3 years later, and participants reported depressive symptoms in adulthood (age range, 20-39). Of the group, 9.8% carried the T/T genotype, 45.5% carried the C/C genotype, and 44.7% were heterozygotes. Analyses controlled for sex and age, which did not differ in the groups.

"Depressive-symptom scores in adulthood were not associated with any genotype. However, the scores were affected significantly by an interaction between nurturing level in childhood and genotype. Participants with T/T
and T/C genotypes and high maternal nurturance had significantly lower mean depressive-symptom scores than did participants with the C/C genotype and high nurturing as well as participants with any genotype and low nurturing.

"Comment: Researchers have previously found that interested adult social support can protect against childhood depressive symptoms even among those
with the high-risk serotonin-transporter allele (Journal Watch Psychiatry Jan 12 2005). The current results provide another example of the protective effects of nurturing environments and expand the arena to the interaction
between maternal involvement and the serotonin-receptor 2A allele."

-- Barbara Geller, MD

Published in Journal Watch Psychiatry April 23, 2007


Jokela M et al. Serotonin receptor 2A gene and the influence of childhood maternal nurturance on adulthood depressive symptoms. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 2007 Mar; 64:356-60. (Subscription may be required) (Free)
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