The influence of family structure, the TPH2 G-703T and the 5-HTTLPR serotonergic genes upon affective problems in children aged 10-14 years

Maria Nobile, Marianna Rusconi, Monica Bellina, Cecilia Marino, Roberto Giorda, Ombretta Carlet, Laura Vanzin, Massimo Molteni, Marco Battaglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Both genetic and psychosocial risk factors influence the risk for depression in development. While the impacts of family structure and of serotonergic polymorphisms upon individual differences for affective problems have been investigated separately, they have never been considered together in a gene-environment interplay perspective. Methods: We examined the effects of family structure and two serotonergic polymorphisms (the TPH2 G-703T and the 5-HTTLPR) upon depressive symptoms assessed by the new CBCL/6-18 DSM-oriented Affective Problems scale in a generad population sample of 607 Italian children aged 10-14 years. Results: Belonging to'one-parent'families, the TPH2 G-703T 'G variant', and the 5-HTTLPR 'short' alleles were associated - both alone and in apparent gene-by-environment interaction - with higher Affective Problems scores. As predicted by quantitative genetics theory, both polymorphisms contributed with a small effect size, while 'family structure' had a moderate effect size. Conclusions: A putative hazard factor impinging on individual risk at the family-wide level, namely family structure, appears to act interactively with two pivotal serotonergic genes in heightening risk for Affective Problems. Although it remains to be demonstrated that belonging to a one- rather than a two-parent family has true environmental causal effects on Affective Problems, these data may contribute to identify/prevent risk for depression in childhood

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-325
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009



  • Affective disorders
  • Children
  • Depression
  • Divorce
  • Family
  • Gene-environment interaction
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Medicine(all)

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