Effects of Antenatal Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Socio-Economic Status on Neonatal Brain Development are Modulated by Genetic Risk

Cereb Cortex. 2017 May 1;27(5):3080-3092. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhx065.


This study included 168 and 85 mother-infant dyads from Asian and United States of America cohorts to examine whether a genomic profile risk score for major depressive disorder (GPRSMDD) moderates the association between antenatal maternal depressive symptoms (or socio-economic status, SES) and fetal neurodevelopment, and to identify candidate biological processes underlying such association. Both cohorts showed a significant interaction between antenatal maternal depressive symptoms and infant GPRSMDD on the right amygdala volume. The Asian cohort also showed such interaction on the right hippocampal volume and shape, thickness of the orbitofrontal and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Likewise, a significant interaction between SES and infant GPRSMDD was on the right amygdala and hippocampal volumes and shapes. After controlling for each other, the interaction effect of antenatal maternal depressive symptoms and GPRSMDD was mainly shown on the right amygdala, while the interaction effect of SES and GPRSMDD was mainly shown on the right hippocampus. Bioinformatic analyses suggested neurotransmitter/neurotrophic signaling, SNAp REceptor complex, and glutamate receptor activity as common biological processes underlying the influence of antenatal maternal depressive symptoms on fetal cortico-limbic development. These findings suggest gene-environment interdependence in the fetal development of brain regions implicated in cognitive-emotional function. Candidate biological mechanisms involve a range of brain region-specific signaling pathways that converge on common processes of synaptic development.

Keywords: amygdala; cortical thickness; depression; morphological shape; polygenic risk score.

MeSH terms

  • Asians
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Computational Biology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnostic imaging
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / genetics
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / pathology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / genetics
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / physiology
  • Genotype
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Maternal-Fetal Relations*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Social Class*