Article

Oxytocin Receptor (OXTR) Polymorphisms and Attachment in Human Infants

Department of Psychology, University of Freiburg Freiburg, Germany.
Frontiers in Psychology (Impact Factor: 2.8). 08/2011; 2:200. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00200
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Ordinary variations in human infants' attachment behaviors - their proclivity to seek and accept comfort from caregivers - are associated with a wide range of individual differences in psychological functioning in adults. The current investigation examined variation in the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene as one possible source of these variations in infant attachment. One hundred seventy-six infants (77 Caucasian, 99 non-Caucasian) were classified as securely or insecurely attached based on their behavior in the Strange Situation (Ainsworth et al., 1978). The A allele of OXTR rs2254298 was associated with attachment security in the non-Caucasian infants (p < 0.005). These findings underscore the importance of oxytocin in the development of human social behavior and support its role in social stress-regulation and the development of trust.

Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Frances Chen, Jun 27, 2015
0 Followers
 · 
85 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The neuropeptide oxytocin has played an essential role in the regulation of social behavior and attachment throughout mammalian evolution. Because recent studies in humans have shown that oxytocin administration reduces stress responses and increases prosocial behavior, we investigated whether a common single nucleotide polymorphism (rs53576) in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) might interact with stress-protective effects of social support. Salivary cortisol samples and subjective stress ratings were obtained from 194 healthy male participants before, during, and after a standardized psychosocial laboratory stress procedure. Participants were randomly assigned either to prepare alone or to receive social support from their female partner or close female friend while preparing for the stressful task. Differential stress responses between the genotype groups were observed depending on the presence or absence of social support. Only individuals with one or two copies of the G allele of rs53576 showed lower cortisol responses to stress after social support, compared with individuals with the same genotype receiving no social support. These results indicate that genetic variation of the oxytocin system modulates the effectiveness of positive social interaction as a protective buffer against a stressful experience.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2011; 108(50):19937-42. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1113079108 · 9.81 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: As discussed in the larger review in this special issue (MacDonald and Feifel), intranasal oxytocin (OT) is demonstrating a growing potential as a therapeutic agent in psychiatry. Importantly, research suggests that a variety of individual factors may influence a person's response to OT. In this mini-review, I provide a review of three: (1) sex and hormonal status; (2) genetic variation in aspects of the OT system (i.e., OT receptors); and (3) attachment history. Each of these factors will be important to monitor as we strive to develop a richer understanding of OT's role in human development, brain-based disease, and the potential for individualized, OT-targeted treatments.
    Frontiers in Neuroscience 01/2012; 6:194. DOI:10.3389/fnins.2012.00194
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A molecular genetic approach was used to investigate the relationship between common variants of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene and self-reported social functioning in healthy adults. Females with at least one copy of the A allele at OXTR rs2254298 reported greater attachment anxiety than females with two copies of the G allele. Males with at least one copy of the A allele at OXTR rs2254298 reported more autism-associated traits than males with two copies of the G allele. These results support the growing evidence that naturally occurring differences in the oxytocin system contribute to individual differences in social functioning in healthy adults. The authors discuss potential avenues by which sex may moderate the relationship between oxytocin and human social behavior.
    01/2012; 3(1):93-99. DOI:10.1177/1948550611410325