Mineralocorticoid receptor genotype moderates the association between physical neglect and serum BDNF
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The objective of this study is to investigate if a polymorphism in the NR3C2 gene moderates the association between childhood trauma on serum levels of brain derived neurothrophic factor (sBDNF). sBDNF was used here as a general marker of alteration in brain function. This is a community cross sectional study comprising 90 adolescents (54 with anxiety disorders). DNA was extracted from saliva in order to genotype the MR-2G/C (rs2070951) polymorphism using real time PCR. Blood was collected for sBDNF Elisa immunoassay. The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) was used to evaluate childhood abuse and neglect. Main effects and gene environment interactions were tested using linear regression models. Anxiety disorders were not associated with the MR-2G/C polymorphism or with sBDNF levels, but the number of C alleles of the MR-2G/C polymorphism was significantly associated with higher sBDNF levels (b = 8.008; p-value = 0.001). Subjects with intermediate and high exposure to physical neglect showed higher sBDNF levels if compared to subjects non-exposed (b = 11.955; p = 0.004 and b = 16.186; p = 0.009, respectively). In addition, we detected a significant physical neglect by MR-2G/C C allele interaction on sBDNF levels (p = 0.005), meaning that intermediate and high exposure to childhood neglect were only associated with increased sBDNF levels in subjects with the CC genotype, but not in subjects with other genotypes. Our findings suggest that genetic variants in NR3C2 gene may partially explain plastic brain vulnerability to traumatic events. Further studies are needed to investigate the moderating effects of NR3C2 gene in more specific markers of alteration in brain function.
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