Vulnerability or sensitivity to the environment? methodological isues trends, and recommendations in Gene-environment interactions research in human behavior
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Research on the potential role of gene-environment interactions (GxE) in explaining vulnerability to psychopathology in humans has witnessed a shift from a diathesis-stress perspective to differential susceptibility approaches. This paper critically reviews methodological issues and trends in this body of research. Databases were screened for studies of GxE in the prediction of personality traits, behavior, and mental health disorders in humans published between January 2002 and January 2015. In total, 315 papers were included. Results showed that 34 candidate genes have been included in GxE studies. Independent of the type of environment studied (early or recent life events, positive or negative environments), about 67-83% of studies have reported significant GxE interactions, which is consistent with a social susceptibility model. The percentage of positive results does not seem to differ depending on the gene studied, although publication bias might be involved. However, the number of positive findings differs depending on the population studied (i.e., young adults vs. older adults). Methodological considerations limit the ability to draw strong conclusions, particularly as almost 90% (n = 283/315) of published papers are based on samples from North America and Europe, and about 70% of published studies (219/315) are based on samples that were also used in other reports. At the same time, there are clear indications of methodological improvements over time, as is shown by a significant increase in longitudinal and experimental studies as well as in improved minimum genotyping. Recommendations for future research, such as minimum quality assessment of genes and environmental factors, specifying theoretical models guiding the study, and taking into account of cultural, ethnic, and lifetime perspectives, are formulated.
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Cita del ítemFront. Psychiatry 8:106
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