Stressful life events and genetic liability to major depression: Genetic control of exposure to the environment
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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ABSTRACT: An increasing body of evidence shows that many 'environmental' measures are heritable, indicating genetic involvement in environmental exposure (or gene-environment correlation). In the present study we attempt to clarify why three such 'environmental' measures (maternal negativity, paternal negativity and negative life events) are consistently found to be heritable. Through multivariate genetic analysis of a sample of adolescent twins from the UK we show that the heritability of these putative environmental measures can be explained via their association with five behavioural phenotypes: oppositionality, delinquency, physical aggression, depression and anxiety. This is consistent with the notion that being genetically susceptible to certain behavioural difficulties could lead to exposure to certain life events, and this may account for the reported heritability of 'environmental' measures. Results are discussed in the context of possible active, evocative and passive gene-environment correlations.Behavior Genetics 03/2013; 43(4). DOI:10.1007/s10519-013-9591-0 · 2.84 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Biological parents pass on genotypes to their children, as well as provide home environments that correlate with their genotypes; thus, the association between the home environment and children's temperament can be genetically (i.e., passive gene-environment correlation) or environmentally mediated. Furthermore, family environments may suppress or facilitate the heritability of children's temperament (i.e., gene-environment interaction). The sample comprised 807 twin pairs (mean age = 7.93 years) from the longitudinal Wisconsin Twin Project. Important passive gene-environment correlations emerged, such that home environments were less chaotic for children with high effortful control, and this association was genetically mediated. Children with high extraversion/surgency experienced more chaotic home environments, and this correlation was also genetically mediated. In addition, heritability of children's temperament was moderated by home environments, such that effortful control and extraversion/surgency were more heritable in chaotic homes, and negative affectivity was more heritable under crowded or unsafe home conditions. Modeling multiple types of gene-environment interplay uncovered the complex role of genetic factors and the hidden importance of the family environment for children's temperament and development more generally.Development and Psychopathology 02/2013; 25(1):51-63. DOI:10.1017/S0954579412000892 · 4.89 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Using the twin pairs sample from the National Longitudinal Study ofAdolescent Health, we estimate bivariate Cholesky models for the influence of stressful life events (SLEs) on depressive symptoms. We show that depressive symptoms (h2Depression = .28) and dependent SLEs (events influenced by an individual's behavior) are both moderately heritable (h2SLE Dependent = .43). We find no evidence for the heritability of independent SLEs. Results from the bivariate Cholesky model suggest that roughly one-half of the correlation between depression and dependent SLEs is due to common genetic factors. Our findings suggest that attempts to characterize the causal effect of SLEs on mental health should limit their list of SLEs to those that are outside of the control of the individual.Biodemography and Social Biology 01/2011; 57(1):53-66. DOI:10.1080/19485565.2011.574565 · 1.37 Impact Factor