[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The amygdala plays a critical role in emotion processing and psychiatric disorders associated with emotion dysfunction. Accumulating evidence suggests that amygdala structure is modulated by serotonin-related genes. However, there is a gap between the small contributions of single loci (less than 1%) and the reported 63-65% heritability of amygdala structure. To understand the "missing heritability," we systematically explored the contribution of serotonin genes on amygdala structure at the gene set level. The present study of 417 healthy Chinese volunteers examined 129 representative polymorphisms in genes from multiple biological mechanisms in the regulation of serotonin neurotransmission. A system-level approach using multiple regression analyses identified that nine SNPs collectively accounted for approximately 8% of the variance in amygdala volume. Permutation analyses showed that the probability of obtaining these findings by chance was low (p = 0.043, permuted for 1000 times). Findings showed that serotonin genes contribute moderately to individual differences in amygdala volume in a healthy Chinese sample. These results indicate that the system-level approach can help us to understand the genetic basis of a complex trait such as amygdala structure.
Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 10/2015; 9:129. DOI:10.3389/fnana.2015.00129 · 3.54 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is an intrinsic personality trait whose genetic and neural bases have recently been studied. The current study used a neural mediation model to explore whether resting-state brain functions mediated the effects of dopamine-related genes on SPS. 298 healthy Chinese college students (96 males, mean age = 20.42 years, SD = 0.89) were scanned with magnetic resonance imaging during resting state, genotyped for 98 loci within the dopamine system, and administered the Highly Sensitive Person Scale. We extracted a "gene score" that summarized the genetic variations representing the 10 loci that were significantly linked to SPS, and then used path analysis to search for brain regions whose resting-state data would help explain the gene-behavior association. Mediation analysis revealed that temporal homogeneity of regional spontaneous activity (ReHo) in the precuneus actually suppressed the effect of dopamine-related genes on SPS. The path model explained 16% of the variance of SPS. This study represents the first attempt at using a multi-gene voxel-based neural mediation model to explore the complex relations among genes, brain, and personality.
PLoS ONE 08/2015; 10(8):e0133143. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0133143 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A recent genome-wide association study of educational attainment identified three significant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs9320913, rs11584700, and rs4851266). In this study, we expanded this previous work by investigating behavioral correlates of these SNPs in a Han Chinese sample (rs9320913 was not available in our data and was thus replaced by rs12202969, which is in high linkage disequilibrium [i.e., correlations of alleles] with the former, r2 = 0.96 in Han Chinese population based on the 1000 Genomes Project). Association analysis for individual SNPs showed significant associations between rs4851266 and a measure of language ability (Chinese word recognition), and between rs12202969 and a personality trait (fear of negative evaluation) and a measure of mathematical ability (number paired-associates learning). A polygenic score based on these three SNPs was also significantly associated with the measures of mathematical and language abilities. Specifically, educationally advantaged alleles identified in the previous study were associated with less fear of negative evaluation and higher mathematical and language abilities in the current study. This exploratory study provides evidence of psychological mechanisms for the association between genes and educational attainment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to examine functional brain activity in response to unpleasant images in individuals with the 7-repeat (7R) allele compared to individuals with the 4-repeat (4R) allele of the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) gene (VNTR in exon 3). Based on the response ready hypothesis, individuals with the DRD4-4R/7R genotype were expected to show greater functional brain activity in response to unpleasant compared to neutral stimuli in specific regions of the frontal, temporal, parietal and limbic lobes, which form the networks involved in attentional, emotional, and preparatory responses. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging activity was studied in 26 young adults (13 with the DRD4-4R/7R genotype and 13 with the DRD4-4R/4R genotype). Participants were asked to look at and subjectively rate unpleasant and neutral images. Results showed increased brain activity in response to unpleasant images compared to neutral images in the right temporal lobe in participants with the DRD4-4R/7R genotype versus participants with the DRD4-4R/4R genotype. The increase in right temporal lobe activity in individuals with DRD4-4R/7R suggests greater involvement in processing negative emotional stimuli. Intriguingly, no differences were found between the two genotypes in the subjective ratings of the images. The findings corroborate the response ready hypothesis, which suggests that individuals with the 7R allele are more responsive to negative emotional stimuli compared to individuals with the 4R allele of the DRD4 gene.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aggressive behavior is a major public health problem worldwide and has been associated with many gene variants, especially those related to the serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) system, and environmental factors. However, the overall contribution of serotonin-related genes to aggressive behavior is not well understood. With a sample of 478 healthy Chinese volunteers, this study investigated the relation between aggressive behavior and genetic variations of the serotoninergic system (as characterized by 129 representative polymorphisms) interacting with environmental factors (parental warmth and acceptance; stressful life events). We adopted a system-level approach to identify SNPs and environmental factors associated with aggressive behavior, and estimated their overall contribution to aggressive behavior using multiple regression, which was then verified by permutation analysis. We identified 12 SNPs that made statistically significant contributions to aggressive behavior. Next, main effects, interactions among these SNPs, and interactions between these SNPs and environmental factors were assessed using multiple regression. The final model accounted for approximately 19% of the variance for aggressive behavior. Permutation analysis confirmed that the probability of obtaining these findings by chance was low (p = 0.045, permuted for 1000 times). These results showed that genetic variations in the serotoninergic system, combined with environmental risk factors, made a moderate contribution to individual differences in aggressive behavior among a healthy population sample.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The GABRB1 gene encodes the beta 1 subunit of gamma-aminobutyric acid A receptor (GABA A receptor), which is responsible for mediating inhibitory neurotransmission in the thalamus. Potential relationships between the GABRB1 gene, thalamus volume, and intelligence have been suggested by previous clinical studies, but have not been directly examined among nonclinical samples. The current study collected structural MRI, genetic, and behavioral data in 316 healthy Chinese adults (including 187 females and 129 males), and examined associations between GABRB1 variants, thalamus volume, and intelligence (measured by the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale Revised). After controlling for intracranial volume, sex, and age, GABRB1 genetic polymorphism at the SNP rs7435958 had the strongest association with thalamus volume (p=0.002 and 0.00008 for left and right thalamus volumes, respectively), with GG homozygotes having smaller bilateral thalamus volumes than the other genotypes. Furthermore, there were positive correlations between bilateral thalamus volumes and intelligence, especially for GABRB1 rs7435958 GG female homozygotes (r's=0.31 and 0.29, p<0.01, for the correlations of intelligence with left and right thalamus volumes, respectively). This study provides the first evidence for the involvement of the GABRB1 gene in thalamus structure and their interactive effects on intelligence. Future studies of the thalamus-intelligence associations should consider genetic factors as potential moderators.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives:
We studied postinstitutionalized adopted Chinese girls to determine whether those with different variants of the MAOA gene promoter region (MAOA-VNTR) differed in their internalizing and externalizing behavior problems and whether the MAOA genotype moderated the relation between preadoption adversity and current behavior problems.
MAOA genotyping was obtained for 94 girls (mean age: 9.2 years) and the number of 4-repeat (4R) alleles was determined (zero, one, or two). The adoptive mothers rated several indicators of preadoption adversity shortly after adoption (mean age at adoption 15.8 months) and completed the Child Behavior Checklist when the children were 8.1 years on average.
No main effects were found for preadoption adversity. However, the MAOA genotype had a nominally significant effect (P<0.05) on internalizing problems. Regression analyses controlling for age, household income, authoritarian parenting, and family problems showed that among children with no physical signs of preadoption adversity, those carrying a greater number of 4R alleles scored significantly lower (P<0.01) on internalizing problems than those with fewer 4R alleles. Differences in internalizing scores related to the MAOA genotype were not observed for children who showed one or more physical signs of adversity at the time of adoption. A similar pattern was found for externalizing problems, although the results did not reach conventional levels of significance.
Our results suggest that higher MAOA activity may be protective with respect to internalizing problems in internationally adopted Chinese girls, but that this protective effect decreases at higher levels of preadoption adversity. A similar pattern may exist for externalizing problems.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Allen Brain Atlas shows that the semaphorin 5A (SEMA5A) gene, which encodes an important protein for neurogenesis and neuronal apoptosis, is predominantly expressed in the human hippocampus. Structural and functional neuroimaging studies have further shown that the hippocampus plays an important role in the performance on Raven's Progressive Matrices (RPM), a measure of reasoning ability and general fluid intelligence. Thus far, however, no study has examined the relationships between the SEMA5A gene polymorphism, hippocampal volume, and RPM performance. The current study collected both structural MRI, genetic, and behavioral data in 329 healthy Chinese adults, and examined associations between SEMA5A variants, hippocampal volume, and performance on RAPM (the advanced form of RPM). After controlling for intracranial volume (ICV), sex, and age, SEMA5A genetic polymorphism at the SNP rs42352 had the strongest association with hippocampal volume (p=0.00000552 and 0.000103 for right and left hippocampal volumes, respectively), with TT homozygotes having higher hippocampal volume than the other genotypes. Furthermore, there was a high correlation between right hippocampal volume and RAPM performance (r=0.42, p=0.0000509) for SEMA5A rs42352 TT homozygotes. This study provides the first evidence for the involvement of the SEMA5A gene in hippocampal structure and their interaction on RAPM performance. Future studies of the hippocampus-RPM associations should consider genetic factors as potential moderators.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous research reported that serotonin receptor 2A gene (HTR2A) polymorphisms were associated with memory. However, it is unknown whether these genetic variants were associated with both true and false memories. The current study of 336 Han Chinese subjects tested 30 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the HTR2A gene for potential associations with true and false memories. False memories were assessed using the Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm, in which people falsely remember semantically related (but unpresented) words. We found that 11 SNPs within the HTR2A gene were associated with true memory (p=0.000076-0.043). The associations between true memory and seven adjacent SNPs (i.e., rs1923888, rs1745837, rs9567739, rs3742279, rs655888, rs655854, and rs2296972) were still significant after multiple testing corrections. Haplotype-based association analysis revealed that, true memory was positively associated with haplotype A-C-C-G-C-T-A for these seven adjacent SNPs (p=0.000075), which was still significant after multiple testing correction. Only one SNP rs655854 was associated with false memory (p=0.023), and it was not significant after multiple testing correction. This study replicates, in an Asian population, that genetic variation in HTR2A is associated with episodic memory, and also suggests that this association is restricted to true memory.
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 09/2013; 106. DOI:10.1016/j.nlm.2013.09.004 · 3.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genes that are differentially expressed between schizophrenia patients and healthy controls may have key roles in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. We analyzed two large-scale genome-wide expression studies, which examined changes in gene expression in schizophrenia patients and their matched controls. We found calcium/calmodulin (CAM)-dependent protein kinase kinase 2 (CAMKK2) is significantly downregulated in individuals with schizophrenia in both studies. To seek the potential genetic variants that may regulate the expression of CAMKK2, we investigated the association between single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within CAMKK2 and the expression level of CAMKK2. We found one SNP, rs1063843, which is located in intron 17 of CAMKK2, is strongly associated with the expression level of CAMKK2 in human brains (P = 1.1 x 10(-6)) and lymphoblastoid cell lines (the lowest P = 8.4 x 10(-6)). We further investigated the association between rs1063843 and schizophrenia in multiple independent populations (a total of 130 623 subjects) and found rs1063843 is significantly associated with schizophrenia (P = 5.17 x 10(-5)). Interestingly, we found the T allele of rs1063843, which is associated with lower expression level of CAMKK2, has a higher frequency in individuals with schizophrenia in all of the tested samples, suggesting rs1063843 may be a causal variant. We also found that rs1063843 is associated with cognitive function and personality in humans. In addition, protein-protein interaction (PPI) analysis revealed that CAMKK2 participates in a highly interconnected PPI network formed by top schizophrenia genes, which further supports the potential role of CAMKK2 in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. Taken together, these converging lines of evidence strongly suggest that CAMKK2 may have pivotal roles in schizophrenia susceptibility.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The seven-factor biopsychosocial model of personality distinguished four biologically based temperaments and three psychosocially based characters. Previous studies have suggested that the four temperaments-Novelty Seeking (NS), Reward Dependence (RD), Harm Avoidance (HA), and Persistence (P)-have their respective neurobiological correlates, especially in the striatum-connected subcortical and cortical networks. However, few studies have investigated their neurobiological basis in the form of fiber connectivity between brain regions. This study correlated temperaments with fiber connectivity between the striatum and subcortical and cortical hub regions in a sample of 50 Chinese adult males. Generally consistent with our hypotheses, results showed that: (1) NS was positively correlated with fiber connectivity from the medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC, lOFC) and amygdala to the striatum; (2) RD was positively correlated with fiber connectivity from the mOFC, posterior cingulate cortex/retrosplenial cortex (PCC), hippocampus, and amygdala to the striatum; (3) HA was positively linked to fiber connectivity from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and PCC to the striatum; and (4) P was positively linked to fiber connectivity from the mOFC to the striatum. These results extended the research on the neurobiological basis of temperaments by identifying their anatomical fiber connectivity correlates within the subcortical-cortical neural networks.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Obesity has become a worldwide health problem in the past decades. Human and animal studies have implicated serotonin in appetite regulation, and behavior genetic studies have shown that body mass index (BMI) has a strong genetic component. However, the roles of genes related to the serotoninergic (5-hydroxytryptamine,5-HT) system in obesity/BMI are not well understood, especially in Chinese subjects.
With a sample of 478 healthy Chinese volunteers, this study investigated the relation between BMI and genetic variations of the serotoninergic system as characterized by 136 representative polymorphisms. We used a system-level approach to identify SNPs associated with BMI, then estimated their overall contribution to BMI by multiple regression and verified it by permutation.
We identified 12 SNPs that made statistically significant contributions to BMI. After controlling for gender and age, four of these SNPs accounted for 7.7% additional variance of BMI. Permutation analysis showed that the probability of obtaining these findings by chance was low (p = 0.015, permuted for 1000 times).
These results showed that genetic variations in the serotoninergic system made a moderate contribution to individual differences in BMI among a healthy Chinese sample, suggesting that a similar approach can be used to study obesity.
PLoS ONE 03/2013; 8(3):e58717. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0058717 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although much is known about college students as a special sample in terms of their behavioral traits such as intelligence and academic motivation, no studies have examined whether college students represent a “biased” sample in terms of their genotype frequencies. The present study investigated this issue by examining the Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium of genotype frequencies of 284 SNPs covering major neurotransmitter genes in a sample of 478 Chinese college students, comparing these frequencies with those of a community sample (the 1000 Genomes dataset), and examining behavioral correlates of the SNPs in Hardy–Weinberg disequilibrium. Results showed that 24 loci showed Hardy–Weinberg disequilibrium among college students, but only two of these were in disequilibrium in the 1000 Genomes sample. These loci were found to be associated with mathematical abilities, executive functions, motivation, and adjustment-related behaviors such as alcohol use and emotion recognition. Generally, genotypes overrepresented in the college sample showed better performance and adjustment than under-represented or non-biased genotypes. This study illustrates a new approach to studying genetic correlates of traits associated with a socially-selected group—college students—and presents the first evidence of genetic stratification in terms of education attainment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Longevity is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. The brain's dopamine system may be particularly relevant, since it modulates traits (e.g., sensitivity to reward, incentive motivation, sustained effort) that impact behavioral responses to the environment. In particular, the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) has been shown to moderate the impact of environments on behavior and health. We tested the hypothesis that the DRD4 gene influences longevity and that its impact is mediated through environmental effects. Surviving participants of a 30-year-old population-based health survey (N = 310; age range, 90-109 years; the 90+ Study) were genotyped/resequenced at the DRD4 gene and compared with a European ancestry-matched younger population (N = 2902; age range, 7-45 years). We found that the oldest-old population had a 66% increase in individuals carrying the DRD4 7R allele relative to the younger sample (p = 3.5 × 10(-9)), and that this genotype was strongly correlated with increased levels of physical activity. Consistent with these results, DRD4 knock-out mice, when compared with wild-type and heterozygous mice, displayed a 7-9.7% decrease in lifespan, reduced spontaneous locomotor activity, and no lifespan increase when reared in an enriched environment. These results support the hypothesis that DRD4 gene variants contribute to longevity in humans and in mice, and suggest that this effect is mediated by shaping behavioral responses to the environment.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 01/2013; 33(1):286-291. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3515-12.2013 · 6.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DOPA decarboxylase (DDC) is involved in the synthesis of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. It has been suggested that genes involved in the dopamine, norepinephrine, and cholinergic systems play an essential role in the efficiency of human attention networks. Attention refers to the cognitive process of obtaining and maintaining the alert state, orienting to sensory events, and regulating the conflicts of thoughts and behavior. The present study tested seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the DDC gene for association with attention, which was assessed by the Attention Network Test to detect three networks of attention, including alerting, orienting, and executive attention, in a healthy Han Chinese sample (N = 451). Association analysis for individual SNPs indicated that four of the seven SNPs (rs3887825, rs7786398, rs10499695, and rs6969081) were significantly associated with alerting attention. Haplotype-based association analysis revealed that alerting was associated with the haplotype G-A-T for SNPs rs7786398- rs10499695-rs6969081. These associations remained significant after correcting for multiple testing by max(T) permutation. No association was found for orienting and executive attention. This study provides the first evidence for the involvement of the DDC gene in alerting attention. A better understanding of the genetic basis of distinct attention networks would allow us to develop more effective diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of deficient or underdeveloped alerting attention as well as its related prevalent neuropsychiatric disorders.
Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 12/2012; 43. DOI:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2012.12.020 · 3.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous research reported that a rare serotonin receptor 2B gene (HTR2B) stop codon mutation predisposes subjects to severe impulsivity and novelty seeking. In this study, we expanded this previous work by testing six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the HTR2B gene for potential associations with the behavioral inhibition system (BIS) and the three components of the behavioral approach systems (BAS: fun seeking, drive, and reward responsiveness) in a Han Chinese sample (N = 478). Association analysis for individual SNPs indicated that four of the six SNPs (i.e., rs6437000, rs10194776, rs16827801, and rs1549339) were significantly associated with BAS fun seeking (p = .0003–.0022). Haplotype-based association analysis revealed that fun seeking was positively associated with haplotype A–A–G–A for SNPs rs6437000–rs10194776–rs16827801–rs1549339 (p = .0002), which survived Bonferroni correction. Except for the association between BAS reward responsiveness and rs16827801 (p = .005), no other association was found for BAS drive, BAS reward responsiveness, or BIS. This study provides the first evidence for the involvement of the HTR2B gene in BAS fun seeking. A better understanding of the genetic basis of the BIS and BAS would allow us to develop more effective diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of impulsive behavioral problems.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The genetic and neural basis of working memory (WM) has been extensively studied. Many dopamine (DA) related genes, including the NTSR1 gene (a DA modulator gene), have been reported to be associated with WM performance. The NTSR1 protein is predominantly expressed in the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus, the latter of which is closely involved in WM processing based on both lesion and fMRI studies. Thus far, however, no study has examined the joint effects of NTSR1 gene polymorphism and hippocampal morphology on WM performance. Participants of the current study were 330 healthy Chinese college students. WM performance was measured with a 2-back WM paradigm. Structural MRI data were acquired and then analyzed using an automated procedure with atlas-based FreeSurfer segmentation software (v 4.5.0) package. Linear regression analyses were conducted with a NTSR1 C/T polymorphism previously associated with WM (rs4334545) , hippocampal volume, and their interaction as predictors of WM performance, with gender and intracranial volume (ICV) as covariates. Results showed a significant interaction between NTSR1 genotype and hippocampal volume (p<.05 for both the left and right hippocampi). Further analysis showed that the correlation between hippocampal volume and WM scores was significant for carriers of the NTSR1 T-allele (p<.05 for both hippocampi), but not for CC homozygotes. These results indicate that the association between hippocampal structure and WM performance was modulated by variation in the NTSR1 gene, and suggest that further studies of brain-behavior associations should take genetic background information into account.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Both genetic and environmental factors have been shown to influence decision making, but their relative contributions and interactions are not well understood. The present study aimed to reveal possible gene-environment interactions on decision making in a large healthy sample. Specifically, we examined how the frequently studied COMT Val(158)Met polymorphism interacted with an environmental risk factor (i.e., stressful life events) and a protective factor (i.e., parental warmth) to influence affective decision making as measured by the Iowa Gambling Task. We found that stressful life events acted as a risk factor for poor IGT performance (i.e., high reward sensitivity) among Met carriers, whereas parental warmth acted as a protective factor for good IGT performance (i.e., higher IGT score) among Val/Val homozygotes. These results shed some new light on gene-environment interactions in decision making, which could potentially help us understand the underlying etiology of several psychiatric disorders associated with decision making impairment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous case-control and family-based association studies have implicated the SLC6A4 gene in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Little research, however, has examined this gene's role in obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCS) in community samples. The present study genotyped seven tag SNPs and two common functional tandem repeat polymorphisms (5-HTTLPR and STin2), which together cover the whole SLC6A4 gene, and investigated their associations with OCS in normal Chinese college students (N = 572). The results revealed a significant gender main effect and gender-specific genetic effects of the SLC6A4 gene on OCS. Males scored significantly higher on total OCS and its three dimensions than did females (ps < .01). The 5-HTTLPR in the promoter region showed a female-specific genetic effect, with the l/l and l/s genotypes linked to higher OCS scores than the s/s genotype (ps < .05). In contrast, a conserved haplotype polymorphism (rs1042173| rs4325622| rs3794808| rs140701| rs4583306| rs2020942) covering from intron 3 to the 3' UTR of the SLC6A4 gene showed male-specific genetic effects, with the CGAAGG/CGAAGG genotype associated with lower OCS scores than the other genotypes (ps < .05). These effects remained significant after controlling for OCS-related factors including participants' depressive and anxiety symptoms as well as stressful life events, and correction for multiple tests. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for our understanding of the sex-specific role of the different sections of the SLC6A4 gene in OCD.
Journal of Psychiatric Research 06/2012; 46(9):1153-60. DOI:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.05.002 · 3.96 Impact Factor