Interaction of prenatal exposure to cigarettes and MAOA genotype in pathways to youth antisocial behavior.

Wakschlag LS, Kistner EO, Pine DS, Biesecker G, Pickett KE, Skol AD, Dukic V, Blair RJ, Leventhal BL, Cox NJ, Burns JL, Kasza KE, Wright RJ, Cook EH
Mol Psychiatry. 2010 15 (9): 928-37

PMID: 19255579 · PMCID: PMC2905677 · DOI:10.1038/mp.2009.22

Genetic susceptibility to antisocial behavior may increase fetal sensitivity to prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke. Testing putative gene x exposure mechanisms requires precise measurement of exposure and outcomes. We tested whether a functional polymorphism in the gene encoding the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) interacts with exposure to predict pathways to adolescent antisocial behavior. We assessed both clinical and information-processing outcomes. One hundred seventy-six adolescents and their mothers participated in a follow-up of a pregnancy cohort with well-characterized exposure. A sex-specific pattern of gene x exposure interaction was detected. Exposed boys with the low-activity MAOA 5' uVNTR (untranslated region variable number of tandem repeats) genotype were at increased risk for conduct disorder (CD) symptoms. In contrast, exposed girls with the high-activity MAOA uVNTR genotype were at increased risk for both CD symptoms and hostile attribution bias on a face-processing task. There was no evidence of a gene-environment correlation (rGE). Findings suggest that the MAOA uVNTR genotype, prenatal exposure to cigarettes and sex interact to predict antisocial behavior and related information-processing patterns. Future research to replicate and extend these findings should focus on elucidating how gene x exposure interactions may shape behavior through associated changes in brain function.

MeSH Terms (19)

Adolescent Adolescent Behavior Adult Environment Female Follow-Up Studies Genetic Predisposition to Disease Genotype Humans Male Monoamine Oxidase Phenotype Pregnancy Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects Risk Factors Sex Distribution Smoking Social Behavior Disorders Young Adult

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