The association of childhood maltreatment with depression and anxiety is not moderated by the oxytocin receptor gene

Marieke S. Tollenaar*, Marc L. Molendijk, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx, Yuri Milaneschi, Niki Antypa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene may be involved in resilience or vulnerability towards stress, and hence in the development of stress-related disorders. There are indications that OXTR single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) interact with early life stressors in predicting levels of depression and anxiety. To replicate and extend these findings, we examined whether three literature-based OXTR SNPs (rs2254298, rs53576, rs2268498) interact with childhood maltreatment in the development of clinically diagnosed depression and anxiety disorders. Methods: We included 2567 individuals from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety. This sample consisted of 387 healthy controls, 428 people with a current or past depressive disorder, 243 people with a current or past anxiety disorder, and 1509 people with both lifetime depression and anxiety diagnoses. Childhood maltreatment was measured with both an interview and via self-report. Additional questionnaires measured depression and anxiety sensitivity. Results: Childhood maltreatment was strongly associated with both lifetime depression and anxiety diagnoses, as well as with depression and anxiety sensitivity. However, the OXTR SNPs did not moderate these associations nor had main effects on outcomes. Conclusions: The three OXTR gene SNPs did not interact with childhood maltreatment in predicting lifetime depression and anxiety diagnoses or sensitivity. This stresses the importance of replication studies with regard to OXTR gene variants in general populations as well as in clearly established clinical samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-526
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

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