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Keywords:

  • gene–environment interaction;
  • serotonin transporter gene;
  • 5-HTTLPR;
  • childhood trauma;
  • anxiety sensitivity

Abstract

Background: Genetic factors and environmental factors are assumed to interactively influence the pathogenesis of anxiety disorders. Thus, a gene–environment interaction (G × E) study was conducted with respect to anxiety sensitivity (AS) as a promising intermediate phenotype of anxiety disorders. Method: Healthy subjects (N = 363) were assessed for AS, childhood maltreatment (Childhood Trauma Questionnaire), and genotyped for functional serotonin transporter gene variants (5-HTTLPR/5-HTT rs25531). The influence of genetic and environmental variables on AS and its subdimensions was determined by a step-wise hierarchical regression and a multiple indicator multiple cause (MIMIC) model. Results: A significant G × E effect of the more active 5-HTT genotypes and childhood maltreatment on AS was observed. Furthermore, genotype (LL)–childhood trauma interaction particularly influenced somatic AS subdimensions, whereas cognitive subdimensions were affected by childhood maltreatment only. Conclusions: Results indicate a G × E effect of the more active 5-HTT genotypes and childhood maltreatment on AS, with particular impact on its somatic subcomponent. Depression and Anxiety, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.