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Interpersonal childhood adversity and stress generation in adolescence: Moderation by HPA axis multilocus genetic variation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 October 2019

Meghan Huang*
Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA
Lisa R. Starr
Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA
Author for Correspondence: Meghan Huang, 494 Meliora Hall, Box 270266, Rochester, NY 14627; E-mail:


Research suggests that childhood adversity (CA) is associated with a wide range of repercussions, including an increased likelihood of interpersonal stress generation. This may be particularly true following interpersonal childhood adversity (ICA) and for youth with high hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis-related genetic risk. In the current study, we applied a multilocus genetic profile score (MGPS) approach to measuring HPA axis-related genetic variation and examined its interaction with ICA to predict interpersonal stress generation in a sample of adolescents aged 14–17 (N = 241, Caucasian subsample n = 192). MGPSs were computed using 10 single nucleotide polymorphisms from HPA axis-related genes (CRHR1, NRC31, NRC32, and FKBP5). ICA significantly predicted greater adolescent interpersonal dependent stress. Additionally, MGPS predicted a stronger association between ICA and interpersonal dependent (but not independent or noninterpersonal dependent) stress. No gene–environment interaction (G×E) effects were found for noninterpersonal CA and MGPS in predicting adolescent interpersonal dependent stress. Effects remained after controlling for current depressive symptoms and following stratification by race. Findings extend existing G×E research on stress generation to HPA axis-related genetic variation and demonstrate effects specific to the interpersonal domain.

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