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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Polygenic differential susceptibility to prenatal adversity.

  • Author(s): Belsky, Jay
  • Pokhvisneva, Irina
  • Rema, Anu Sathyan Sathyapalan
  • Broekman, Birit FP
  • Pluess, Michael
  • O'Donnell, Kieran J
  • Meaney, Michael J
  • Silveira, Patrícia P
  • et al.

A recent article in this journal reported a number of gene × environment interactions involving a serotonin transporter-gene network polygenic score and a composite index of prenatal adversity predicting several problem behavior outcomes at 48 months (e.g., anxious/depressed, pervasive developmental problems) and at 60 months (e.g., withdrawal, internalizing problems), yet did not illuminate the nature or form these genetic × environment interactions took. Here we report results of six additional analyses to evaluate whether these interactions reflected diathesis-stress or differential-susceptibility related processes. Analyses of the regions of significance and proportion of interaction index are consistent with the diathesis-stress model, seemingly because of the truncated nature of the adversity score (which did not extend to supportive/positive prenatal experiences/exposures); in contrast, the proportion (of cases) affected index favors the differential-susceptibility model. These results suggest the need for future studies to extend measurement of the prenatal environment to highly supportive experiences and exposures.

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