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The Association Between Peer and Own Aggression is Moderated by the BDNF Val-Met Polymorphism


  • We are extremely grateful to all the families who took part in this study, the midwives for their help in recruiting them, and the whole ALSPAC team, which includes interviewers, computer and laboratory technicians, clerical workers, research scientists, volunteers, managers, receptionists, and nurses. The UK Medical Research Council (Grant ref: 74882) the Wellcome Trust (Grant ref: 076467) and the University of Bristol provide core support for ALSPAC. Access to ALSPAC was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child and Human Development (1R01 HD068437-01A1) to E.D. Barker.


Peer antisocial behavior robustly predicts adolescents' own behavior, but not all adolescents are equally vulnerable to their peers' influence and genetic factors may confer vulnerability. This study used data of = 3,081 adolescents from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children to examine whether brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a polymorphism that affects psychological functioning, moderates the association between affiliation with aggressive peers at age 10 and own aggression at age 15. A significant gene–environment interaction was found, where those who affiliated with aggressive peers in childhood showed increased risk of being aggressive in adolescence if they carried the BDNF met-met variant compared with val-val carriers. Our findings underline the importance of both biological and social factors for adolescent development.