5-HTTLPR S-allele: a genetic plasticity factor regarding the effects of life events on personality?
Article first published online: 6 APR 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Genes, Brain and Behavior © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society
Genes, Brain and Behavior
Volume 11, Issue 6, pages 643–650, August 2012
How to Cite
Kuepper, Y., Wielpuetz, C., Alexander, N., Mueller, E., Grant, P. and Hennig, J. (2012), 5-HTTLPR S-allele: a genetic plasticity factor regarding the effects of life events on personality?. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 11: 643–650. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2012.00783.x
- Issue published online: 23 JUL 2012
- Article first published online: 6 APR 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 15 MAR 2012 12:59PM EST
- Received 20 December 2011, revised 7 February 2012, accepted for publication 12 March 2012
- Gene × environment interaction;
- life satisfaction;
- positive life-events;
- stressful life-events
The S-allele of the 5-HTTLPR has been identified as a genetic vulnerability factor, being associated with an increased risk for affective disorders and/or maladaptive traits (e.g. neuroticism), especially after exposition to negative life-events (LEs). Alternatively, it has been hypothesized that this genetic risk factor might constitute a genetic plasticity factor. That is, S-allele carriers are not only vulnerable to the negative effects of a preponderance of stressful LEs but also disproportionally benefit from a preponderance of positive environmental influences. We tested this hypothesis in 357 subjects who were genotyped for the 5-HTTLPR and provided self-reports of neuroticism, life-satisfaction and LEs. Results showed a relatively increased number of positive LEss to be associated with reduced neuroticism (men: β = −0.501, P < 0.05, women: β = −0.369, P < 0.005) and increased life satisfaction (β = 0.494, P < 0.001) within SS-homozygotes. Within SL-heterozygotes, similar tendencies were found. No associations were detected in LL-homozygotes. Extreme Group comparisons revealed a genotype × LE interaction (F2,198 = 5.593, P < 0.005), with SS-homozygotes having experienced predominantly positive LEs exhibiting reduced neuroticism (women: F1,34 = 4.764, P < 0.05; men: F1,17 = 2.092, P = 0.17), and increased life satisfaction (F1,53 = 4.057, P < 0.05), as compared to LL-homozygotes having experienced predominantly positive LEs. Our data support the idea that the S-allele of the 5-HTTLPR is associated with an overall increased reactivity to environmental influences, be they positive or negative in nature. These findings constitute a promising add-on to earlier data and support the plasticity hypothesis.