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Kendler KS, Karkowski-Shuman L 1997. Stressful life events and genetic liability to major depression: genetic control of exposure to the environment

Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Ричмонд, Virginia, United States
Psychological Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.43). 06/1997; 27(3):539-47. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291797004716
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although overwhelming evidence suggests that genetic and environmental risk factors both contribute to the aetiology of major depression (MD), we know little of how these two risk factor domains inter-relate. In particular, can the genetic liability to MD increase the risk of experiencing stressful life events (SLEs)?
Using discrete time survival analysis in a population-based sample of 2164 female twins, we examined whether the risks for nine personal and three aggregate network SLEs were predicted by the level of genetic liability to MD, indexed by the lifetime history of MD in monozygotic and dizygotic co-twins.
Genetic liability to MD was associated with a significantly increased risk for six personal SLEs (assault, serious marital problems, divorce/breakup, job loss, serious illness and major financial problems) and one network SLE (trouble getting along with relatives/friends). This effect was not due to SLEs occurring during depressive episodes. Similar results were found using structural equation twin modelling. In contrast to the pattern observed with MD, the genetic liability to alcoholism impacted on the risk for being robbed and having trouble with the law.
In women, genetic risk factors for MD increase the probability of experiencing SLEs in the interpersonal and occupational/financial domains. Genes can probably impact on the risk for psychiatric illness by causing individuals to select themselves into high risk environments.

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    • "In the present study we set out to investigate the heritability of maternal negativity, paternal negativity and negative life events in an adolescent twin sample. As has been reported previously in this sample (Button et al. 2008) and others (Kendler et al. 1993; Plomin et al. 1990; Saudino et al. 1997), all 3 measures are heritable. Multivariate genetic analyses revealed that this heritability could be accounted for by the association of these environmental stressors with common behavioural and emotional difficulties experienced during adolescence. "
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    • "" If the assumption of independence between the genotype and environment is violated, the GxE parameter estimate may be biased. Given our results in conjunction with the work of others (Bemmels et al. 2008; Billig et al. 1999; Kendler and Karkowski-Shuman 1997; Stein et al. 2002), it is important to consider the possible influence of rGE especially for dependent SLEs. Though it is difficult to assess the relative contribution of rGE influences as distinct from GxE effects (Rutter, Pickles, Murray, and Eaves 2001), an effort to refine life events to exogenous and nonheritable events that happen to people would improve the reliability and validity of these and other studies and would go a long way toward solidifying this important body of work. "
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