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Heritability of antisocial behaviour is estimated at approximately 50% and involves multiple genes.
To investigate the cumulative genetic effects of 116 single nucleotide polymorphisms mapping to 11 candidate serotonergic genes and antisocial behaviours, in adolescence and in early adulthood.
Participants were 410 male members of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Kindergarten Children, a population-based cohort followed up prospectively from age 6 to age 23. The serotonergic genes were selected based on known physiological processes and prior associations with antisocial behaviours. Antisocial behaviours were self-reported and assessed by using semi-structured interviews in adolescence and in adulthood.
Cumulative, haplotype-based contributions of serotonergic genes conferring risk and protection for antisocial behaviours were detected by using multilocus genetic profile risk scores (MGPRSs) and multilocus genetic profile protection scores (MGPPSs). Cumulatively, haplotype-based MGPRSs and MGPPSs contributed to 9.6, 8.5 and 15.2% of the variance in general delinquency in adolescence, property/violent crimes in early adulthood and physical partner violence in early adulthood, respectively.
This study extends previous research by showing a cumulative effect of multiple haplotypes conferring risk and protection to antisocial behaviours in adolescence and early adulthood. The findings further support the relevance of concomitantly considering multiple serotonergic polymorphisms to better understand the genetic aetiology of antisocial behaviours. Future studies should investigate the interplay between risk and protective haplotype-based multilocus genetic profile scores with the environment.
Declaration of interest:
I.O.-M. holds a Canada Research Chair in the developmental origins of vulnerability and resilience.
There is a relative consensus about the detrimental impact of childhood maltreatment on later mental health problems and behavioral difficulties. Prior research suggests that neurophysiological stress mechanisms may partly mediate this association. However, inconsistent findings regarding hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and sympathetic responses to stress complicate this investigation. Furthermore, the concordance in these two stress systems is not well understood. We tested whether the severity of maltreatment affected the association between maltreatment and cortisol and heart rate (HR) stress responses and the symmetry of these responses. Participants were 155 males (56 maltreated and 99 controls) aged 18 to 35 years. Cortisol and HR were measured in response to the Trier Social Stress Test. Childhood maltreatment, sociodemographic factors, and health-related factors were measured using self-reported questionnaires. Maltreated participants had higher cortisol responses to stress in comparison to controls. However, a shift from moderate to lower to higher cortisol responses was noted as the severity of the experiences increased. Participants exposed to more experiences of maltreatment also showed a greater symmetry between cortisol and HR stress responses. Our findings provide further support for persistent dysregulation of the HPA axis following childhood maltreatment, of which the expression and symmetry with the sympathetic system may change according to the severity of experiences.
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