Meta-analysis of the serotonin transporter promoter variant (5-HTTLPR) in relation to adverse environment and antisocial behavior

Jorim J Tielbeek, Richard Karlsson Linnér, Koko Beers, Danielle Posthuma, Arne Popma, Tinca J C Polderman

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Several studies have suggested an association between antisocial, aggressive, and delinquent behavior and the short variant of the serotonin transporter gene polymorphism (5-HTTLPR). Yet, genome wide and candidate gene studies in humans have not convincingly shown an association between these behaviors and 5-HTTLPR. Moreover, individual studies examining the effect of 5-HTTLPR in the presence or absence of adverse environmental factors revealed inconsistent results. We therefore performed a meta-analysis to test for the robustness of the potential interaction effect of the "long-short" variant of the 5-HTTLPR genotype and environmental adversities, on antisocial behavior. Eight studies, comprising of 12 reasonably independent samples, totaling 7,680 subjects with an effective sample size of 6,724, were included in the meta-analysis. Although our extensive meta-analysis resulted in a significant interaction effect between the 5-HTTLPR genotype and environmental adversities on antisocial behavior, the methodological constraints of the included studies hampered a confident interpretation of our results, and firm conclusions regarding the direction of effect. Future studies that aim to examine biosocial mechanisms that influence the etiology of antisocial behavior should make use of larger samples, extend to genome-wide genetic risk scores and properly control for covariate interaction terms, ensuring valid and well-powered research designs. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-60
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

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