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The monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene has been shown to
moderate the impact of maltreatment on antisocial behaviour. Replication
efforts have, however, yielded inconsistent results.
To investigate whether the interaction between the MAOA
gene and violence is present across the full distribution of violence or
emerges at higher levels of exposure.
Participants were 327 male members of the Québec Longitudinal Study of
Kindergarten Children. Exposure to violence comprised retrospective
reports of mother's and father's maltreatment, sexual and physical abuse.
Conduct disorder and antisocial personality symptoms were assessed in
semi-structured interviews and partner violence, property-violent crimes
and arrest were self-reported.
Non-linear interactions between the MAOA gene and
violence were detected, suggesting that the genetic moderation may come
about once a certain level of violence is experienced.
Future studies should investigate the mechanisms translating substantial
violence exposure, which could, subsequently, trigger the expression of
genetically based differences in antisocial behaviour.
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