University of Oulu

Dobewall, H., Hakulinen, C., Keltikangas-Järvinen, L., Pulkki-Råback, L., Seppälä, I., Lehtimäki, T., Raitakari, O., Hintsanen, M. (2018) Oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) variant rs1042778 moderates the influence of family environment on changes in perceived social support over time. Journal of Affective Disorders, 235, 480-488.

Oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) variant rs1042778 moderates the influence of family environment on changes in perceived social support over time

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Author: Dobewall, Henrik1,2; Hakulinen, Christian1; Keltikangas-Järvinen, Liisa1;
Organizations: 1Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki
2Faculty of Social Sciences, Health Sciences, University of Tampere
3Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki
4Department of Clinical Chemistry, Fimlab Laboratories, Finnish Cardiovascular Research Center-Tampere, Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, University of Tampere
5Research Collegium for Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku
6Research Unit of Psychology, University of Oulu
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-04-06


Background: Lack of social support is an established risk factor across health outcomes, making it important to examine its family environmental and genetic determinants.

Methods: In a 27-year follow-up of the Young Finns Study (N = 2341), we examined with a latent growth curve model whether genes involved in the oxytocin signaling pathway—namely, oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) variants rs1042778, rs2254298, and rs53576—moderate the effect of early-life social experiences on perceived social support across the life span. Mothers reported the emotional warmth and acceptance towards their children at baseline when the participants were from 3 to 18 years old (1980). Perceived family support and support from friends and peripheral sources were assessed in five follow-ups 18 years apart (1989–2007).

Results: Maternal emotional warmth and acceptance predicted the initial level of perceived social support across subscales, while the rate of change in family support was affected by the family environment only if participants carried the T-allele of OXTR rs1042778. This gene-environment interaction was not found for the rate of change in support from friends and peripheral sources and we also did not find associations between latent growth in perceived social support and OXTR variants rs53576 and rs2254298.

Limitations: Selective attrition in perceived social support, maternal emotional warmth and acceptance, gender, and SES. Family environment was assessed by a non-standardized measure.

Conclusions: OXTR rs1042778 polymorphism seems to contribute to changes in perceived family support in that way that some individuals (T-allele carriers) ‘recover’, to some extent, from the effects of early-life social experiences, whereas others (G/G genotype carriers) do not.

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Series: Journal of affective disorders
ISSN: 0165-0327
ISSN-E: 1573-2517
ISSN-L: 0165-0327
Volume: 235
Pages: 480 - 488
DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.04.008
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 515 Psychology
Funding: The Young Finns Study has been financially supported by the Academy of Finland: grants 258578 (M.H.), 286284 (T.L.), 134309 (Eye), 126925, 121584, 124282, 129378 (Salve), 117787 (Gendi), and 41071 (Skidi); the Social Insurance Institution of Finland; Kuopio, Tampere and Turku University Hospital Medical Funds (grant X51001 for T.L.); Juho Vainio Foundation; Paavo Nurmi Foundation; Finnish Foundation of Cardiovascular Research; Finnish Cultural Foundation; Tampere Tuberculosis Foundation (T.L.); Emil Aaltonen Foundation (T.L.); Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation (T.L.) and Signe ja Ane Gyllenberg's Foundation (T.L.).
Copyright information: © 2018. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license