Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Psychological resources correlate with an Oxytocin receptor gene.

Interesting work from Saphire-Bernstein et al.. An SNP is a single nucleotide polymorphism, in this case a switch at a particular site between the base adenine (A) and guanine (G) in the DNA coding for an oxytocin receptor named OXTR. Every person carries two copies of this gene (one from each parent), and the finding is that A/A or A/G individuals are less psychologically robust than G/G individuals. This suggests a strong relationship between OXTR and psychological resources. Here is the abstract:
Psychological resources—optimism, mastery, and self-esteem—buffer the deleterious effects of stress and are predictors of neurophysiological and psychological health-related outcomes. These resources have been shown to be highly heritable, yet the genetic basis for this heritability remains unknown. Here, we report a link between the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) SNP rs53576 and psychological resources, such that carriers of the “A” allele have lower levels of optimism, mastery, and self-esteem, relative to G/G homozygotes. OXTR was also associated with depressive symptomatology. Mediation analysis indicates that the effects of OXTR on depressive symptoms may be largely mediated by the influence of OXTR on psychological resources.

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