Childhood adversity interacts separately with 5-HTTLPR and BDNF to predict lifetime depression diagnosis

J Affect Disord. 2011 Jul;132(1-2):89-93. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2011.02.001. Epub 2011 Mar 21.


The serotonin transporter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) and the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) val66met polymorphism have both been linked to depression symptoms and to depression diagnosis (MDD) in interaction with adversity; there have also been failures to find the effects. We reexamined both interactions for lifetime MDD in a college sample. Lifetime MDD was diagnosed by Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV in 133 undergraduates; genotypes for 5-HTTLPR and BDNF were assayed from blood, and self-reports were collected concerning childhood adversity (Risk). 5-HTTLPR interacted with Risk such that Risk predicted less likelihood of MDD among ll carriers and tended to predict greater likelihood of MDD among s carriers. BDNF interacted with Risk such that Risk predicted greater likelihood of MDD among met carriers and did not influence val/val carriers. These two interactions were additive: both were significant in a combined model.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / genetics*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Epistasis, Genetic / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Young Adult


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins