The psychology of psychiatric genetics: Evidence that positive emotions in females moderate genetic sensitivity to social stress associated with the BDNF Val(66)Met polymorphism

Marieke Wichers*, Gunter Kenis, Nele Jacobs, Inez Myin-Germeys, Koen Schruers, Ron Mengelers, Philippe Delespaul, Catherine Derom, Robert Vlietinck, Jim van Os

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Previous work indicated protective effects of positive emotions on genetically influenced stress sensitivity. Given the fact that expression of brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor (BDNF) is associated with stress-induced behavioral changes, it was hypothesized that the BDNF Val(66)Met genotype may mediate genetic effects on stress sensitivity, conditional on the level of concurrent positive emotions. Subjects (n = 446) participated in a momentary assessment study, collecting appraisals of stress and affect in the flow of daily life. Multilevel regression analyses examined moderation of daily life stress-induced negative affect (NA) by BDNF genotype, and to what degree this was conditional on concurrent positive emotions. Results showed that heterozygous BDNF "Met" carriers exhibited an increased NA response to social stress compared with "Val/Val" subjects. Positive emotions at the time of the stressor decreased BDNF genetic moderation of the NA response to social stress in a dose-response fashion. This effect was most pronounced in BDNF Met carriers. Thus, the impact of BDNF genotype on stress sensitivity is conditional on the experience of positive emotions. Interdisciplinary research in psychology and psychiatric genetics may lead to the improvement of treatment choices in stress-related disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-704
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Volume117
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • BDNF Val(66)Met
  • gene-environment interaction
  • stress sensitivity
  • experience sampling method (ESM)
  • positive emotions
  • NEUROTROPHIC FACTOR BDNF
  • DAILY-LIFE
  • VAL66MET POLYMORPHISM
  • MOMENTARY ASSESSMENT
  • DEPRESSED-PATIENTS
  • MAJOR DEPRESSION
  • NEGATIVE AFFECT
  • ANXIETY
  • ALTERS
  • SERUM

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