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Abstract

In this study in urban Brazil we examine, as a predictor of depressive symptoms, the interaction between a single nucleotide polymorphism in the 2A receptor in the serotonin system (−1438G/A) and cultural consonance in family life, a measure of the degree to which an individual perceives her family as corresponding to a widely shared cultural model of the prototypical family. A community sample of 144 adults was followed over a 2-year-period. Cultural consonance in family life was assessed by linking individuals' perceptions of their own families with a shared cultural model of the family derived from cultural consensus analysis. The −1438G/A polymorphism in the 2A serotonin receptor was genotyped using a standard protocol for DNA extracted from leukocytes. Covariates included age, sex, socioeconomic status, and stressful life events. Cultural consonance in family life was prospectively associated with depressive symptoms. In addition, the interaction between genotype and cultural consonance in family life was significant. For individuals with the A/A variant of the −1438G/A polymorphism of the 2A receptor gene, the effect of cultural consonance in family life on depressive symptoms over a 2-year-period was larger (β = −0.533, P < 0.01) than those effects for individuals with either the G/A (β = −0.280, P < 0.10) or G/G (β = −0.272, P < 0.05) variants. These results are consistent with a process in which genotype moderates the effects of culturally meaningful social experience on depressive symptoms. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.