Genetic susceptibility to antisocial behavior may increase fetal sensitivity to prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke. Testing putative gene × exposure mechanisms requires precise measurement of exposure and outcomes. We tested whether a functional polymorphism in the gene encoding the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) interacts with exposure to predict pathways to adolescent antisocial behavior. We assessed both clinical and information-processing outcomes. One hundred seventy-six adolescents and their mothers participated in a follow-up of a pregnancy cohort with well-characterized exposure. A sex-specific pattern of gene × exposure interaction was detected. Exposed boys with the low-activity MAOA 5′ uVNTR (untranslated region variable number of tandem repeats) genotype were at increased risk for conduct disorder (CD) symptoms. In contrast, exposed girls with the high-activity MAOA uVNTR genotype were at increased risk for both CD symptoms and hostile attribution bias on a face-processing task. There was no evidence of a gene-environment correlation (rGE). Findings suggest that the MAOA uVNTR genotype, prenatal exposure to cigarettes and sex interact to predict antisocial behavior and related information-processing patterns. Future research to replicate and extend these findings should focus on elucidating how gene × exposure interactions may shape behavior through associated changes in brain function.
- developmental psychopathology
- gene + environment interaction
- prenatal smoking
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience