Polymorphisms in CRHR1 and the serotonin transporter loci: Gene x gene x environment interactions on depressive symptoms

Kerry J. Ressler, Bekh Bradley, Kristina B. Mercer, Todd C. Deveau, Alicia K. Smith, Charles F. Gillespie, Charles B. Nemeroff, Joseph F. Cubells, Elisabeth B. Binder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Gene x environment (G x E) interactions mediating depressive symptoms have been separately identified in the stress-sensitive serotonergic (5-HTTLPR) and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRHR1) systems. Our objective was to examine whether the effects of child abuse are moderated by gene x gene gene (G x G) interactions between CRHR1 and 5-HTTLPR polymorphisms. We used an association study examining G x G x E interactions of CRHR1 and 5-HTTLPR polymorphisms and measures of child abuse on adult depressive symptomatology. The participant population (N = 1,392) was African-American, of low socioeconomic status (60% with <$1,000/month family income), and with high rates of childhood and lifetime trauma. Depressive symptoms were measured with Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and history of Major Depression by Structure Clinical Interview based on DSM-IV (SCID). We first replicated an interaction of child abuse and 5-HTTLPR on lifetime SCID diagnosis of major depression in a subsample (N = 236) of the study population - the largest African-American 5-HTTLPR cohort reported to date. We then extended our previously reported interaction with both a CRHR1 SNP (rs110402) and TCA haplotype interacting with child abuse to predict current symptoms (N = 1,059; P = 0.0089). We found that the 5-HTTLPR S allele interacted with CRHR1 haplotypes and child abuse to predict current depressivesymptoms (N = 856, P = 0.016). These data suggest that G x E interactions predictive of depressive symptoms may be differentially sensitive to levels of childhood trauma, and the effects of child abuse are moderated by genetic variation at both the CRHR1 and 5-HTTLPR loci and by their G x G interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)812-824
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Child abuse
  • Childhood maltreatment
  • Depression
  • Genetic
  • PTSD
  • Risk factor
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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