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Schiele, Miriam A.; Ziegler, Christiane; Holitschke, Karoline; Schartner, Christoph; Schmidt, Brigitte; Weber, Heike; Reif, Andreas; Romanos, Marcel; Pauli, Paul; Zwanzger, Peter; Deckert, Jürgen; Domschke, Katharina (2016): Influence of 5-HTT variation, childhood trauma and self-efficacy on anxiety traits: a gene-environment-coping interaction study. In: Journal of Neural Transmission, Vol. 123, No. 8: pp. 895-904
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Abstract

Environmental vulnerability factors such as adverse childhood experiences in interaction with genetic risk variants, e.g., the serotonin transporter gene linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR), are assumed to play a role in the development of anxiety and affective disorders. However, positive influences such as general self-efficacy (GSE) may exert a compensatory effect on genetic disposition, environmental adversity, and anxiety traits. We, thus, assessed childhood trauma (Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, CTQ) and GSE in 678 adults genotyped for 5-HTTLPR/rs25531 and their interaction on agoraphobic cognitions (Agoraphobic Cognitions Questionnaire, ACQ), social anxiety (Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale, LSAS), and trait anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, STAI-T). The relationship between anxiety traits and childhood trauma was moderated by self-efficacy in 5-HTTLPR/rs25531 LALA genotype carriers: LALA probands maltreated as children showed high anxiety scores when self-efficacy was low, but low anxiety scores in the presence of high self-efficacy despite childhood maltreatment. Our results extend previous findings regarding anxiety-related traits showing an interactive relationship between 5-HTT genotype and adverse childhood experiences by suggesting coping-related measures to function as an additional dimension buffering the effects of a gene-environment risk constellation. Given that anxiety disorders manifest already early in childhood, this insight could contribute to the improvement of psychotherapeutic interventions by including measures strengthening self-efficacy and inform early targeted preventive interventions in at-risk populations, particularly within the crucial time window of childhood and adolescence.