Mineralocorticoid receptor haplotype, oral contraceptives and emotional information processing

Neuroscience. 2015 Feb 12:286:412-22. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.12.004. Epub 2014 Dec 10.


Background: Oral contraceptives (OCs) affect mood in some women and may have more subtle effects on emotional information processing in many more users. Female carriers of mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) haplotype 2 have been shown to be more optimistic and less vulnerable to depression.

Aim: To investigate the effects of oral contraceptives on emotional information processing and a possible moderating effect of MR haplotype.

Methods: Cross-sectional study in 85 healthy premenopausal women of West-European descent.

Results: We found significant main effects of oral contraceptives on facial expression recognition, emotional memory and decision-making. Furthermore, carriers of MR haplotype 1 or 3 were sensitive to the impact of OCs on the recognition of sad and fearful faces and on emotional memory, whereas MR haplotype 2 carriers were not.

Limitations: Different compounds of OCs were included. No hormonal measures were taken. Most naturally cycling participants were assessed in the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle.

Conclusions: Carriers of MR haplotype 2 may be less sensitive to depressogenic side-effects of OCs.

Keywords: cognition; emotional information processing; mineralocorticoid receptor; oral contraceptives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making / drug effects*
  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Emotions / drug effects*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Facial Expression
  • Female
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall / drug effects*
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid / genetics*
  • Recognition, Psychology / drug effects*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid