Genetic Variation in the Vasopressin Receptor 1a Gene (AVPR1A) Associates with Pair-Bonding Behavior in Humans

Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Box 281, S-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 10/2008; 105(37):14153-6. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0803081105
Source: PubMed


Pair-bonding has been suggested to be a critical factor in the evolutionary development of the social brain. The brain neuropeptide arginine vasopressin (AVP) exerts an important influence on pair-bonding behavior in voles. There is a strong association between a polymorphic repeat sequence in the 5' flanking region of the gene (avpr1a) encoding one of the AVP receptor subtypes (V1aR), and proneness for monogamous behavior in males of this species. It is not yet known whether similar mechanisms are important also for human pair-bonding. Here, we report an association between one of the human AVPR1A repeat polymorphisms (RS3) and traits reflecting pair-bonding behavior in men, including partner bonding, perceived marital problems, and marital status, and show that the RS3 genotype of the males also affects marital quality as perceived by their spouses. These results suggest an association between a single gene and pair-bonding behavior in humans, and indicate that the well characterized influence of AVP on pair-bonding in voles may be of relevance also for humans.

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    • "We found that DupB +/− females scored higher than homozygous females, but found no significant difference between the two homozygous genotypes. As there is sexual differentiation in the vasopressin system (De Vries and Panzica, 2006), and as previous studies also primarily report associations with male social behavior, these results are not unexpected (Hopkins et al., 2012; Walum et al., 2008; Winslow et al., 1993). Although we could not test for group effects statistically, we found that females that are housed in groups with DupB +/+ males (in particular at Antwerp Zoo) scored higher on the sociability component compared to females that were housed with DupB −/− males. "
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    ABSTRACT: The importance of genes in regulating phenotypic variation of personality traits in humans and animals is becoming increasingly apparent in recent studies. Here we focus on variation in the vasopressin receptor gene 1a (Avpr1a) and oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) and their effects on social personality traits in chimpanzees. We combine newly available genetic data on Avpr1a and OXTR allelic variation of 62 captive chimpanzees with individual variation in personality, based on behavioral assessments. Our study provides support for the positive association of the Avpr1a promoter region, in particular the presence of DupB, and sociability in chimpanzees. This complements findings of previous studies on adolescent chimpanzees and studies that assessed personality using questionnaire data. In contrast, no significant associations were found for the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) ss1388116472 of the OXTR and any of the personality components. Most importantly, our study provides additional evidence for the regulatory function of the 5' promoter region of Avpr1a on social behavior and its evolutionary stable effect across species, including rodents, chimpanzees and humans. Although it is generally accepted that complex social behavior is regulated by a combination of genes, the environment and their interaction, our findings highlight the importance of candidate genes with large effects on behavioral variation. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Hormones and Behavior 08/2015; 75. DOI:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2015.08.006 · 4.63 Impact Factor
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    • "Vasopressin enhanced men's responses to sexual cues (Guastella et al., 2011) and made men more likely to judge a face as aggressive (Thompson et al., 2006), perhaps relating to male–male competition. A particular variant in the vasopressin AVPR1a receptor allele was associated with higher relationship discord in men than other variants (Walum et al., 2008) and men with higher AVP concentrations were more likely to report relationship distress than men with lower concentrations (Taylor et al., 2010). In contrast, for women, oxytocin was more closely related to these factors than vasopressin: certain variants in oxytocin receptor genes (Walum et al., 2012) and high oxytocin concentrations were related to relationship difficulties (Taylor et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: We review recent research on the roles of hormones and social experiences on the development of paternal care in humans and non-human primates. Generally, lower concentrations of testosterone and higher concentrations of oxytocin are associated with greater paternal responsiveness. Hormonal changes prior to the birth appear to be important in preparation for fatherhood and changes after the birth are related to how much time fathers spend with offspring and whether they provide effective care. Prolactin may facilitate approach and the initiation of infant care, and in some biparental non-human primates, it affects body mass regulation. Glucocorticoids may be involved in coordinating reproductive and parental behavior between mates. New research involving intranasal oxytocin and neuropeptide receptor polymorphisms may help us understand individual variation in paternal responsiveness. This area of research, integrating both biological factors and the role of early and adult experience, has the potential to suggest individually designed interventions that can strengthen relationships between fathers and their partners and offspring. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Hormones and Behavior 08/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2015.07.024 · 4.63 Impact Factor
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    • "Consequently, knocking out the gene coding for AVPR1a could be associated with a reduction in anxiety, as measured by the elevated plus maze test mentioned above (Egashira et al., 2007). In order to translate these interesting findings to humans, molecular genetic association studies have already investigated genetic variants on the AVPR1A and AVPR1B 4 genes in relation to individual differences in a vast range of human behaviors, including anxiety related personality traits (Meyer-Lindenberg et al., 2009; Kazantseva et al., 2014), altruistic behavior (Avinun et al., 2011), musical aptitude (Ukkola et al., 2009), pair bonding (Walum et al., 2008), and autism (Yirmiya et al., 2006; Yamasue, 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Jeffrey Gray's Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST) represents one of the most influential biologically-based personality theories describing individual differences in approach and avoidance tendencies. The most prominent self-report inventory to measure individual differences in approach and avoidance behavior to date is the BIS/BAS scale by Carver and White (1994). As Gray and McNaughton (2000) revised the RST after its initial formulation in the 1970/80s, and given the Carver and White measure is based on the initial conceptualization of RST, there is a growing need for self-report inventories measuring individual differences in the revised behavioral inhibition system (BIS), behavioral activation system (BAS) and the fight, flight, freezing system (FFFS). Therefore, in this paper we present a new questionnaire measuring individual differences in the revised constructs of the BIS, BAS and FFFS in N = 1814 participants (German sample). An English translated version of the new measure is also presented and tested in N = 299 English language participants. A large number of German participants (N = 1090) also filled in the BIS/BAS scales by Carver and White (1994) and the correlations between these measures are presented. Finally, this same subgroup of participants provided buccal swaps for the investigation of the arginine vasopressin receptor 1a (AVPR1a) gene. Here, a functional genetic polymorphism (rs11174811) on the AVPR1a gene was shown to be associated with individual differences in both the revised BIS and classic BIS dimensions.
    Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 03/2015; 9(38). DOI:10.3389/fnsys.2015.00038
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