The Oxytocin Receptor Gene (OXTR) in Relation to State Levels of Loneliness in Adolescence

Eeske van Roekel, Maaike Verhagen, Ron H. J. Scholte, Marloes Kleinjan, Luc Goossens, Rutger C. M. E. Engels

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20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Previous research has shown that the rs53576 variant of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) is associated with trait levels of loneliness, but results are inconsistent. The aim of the present study is to examine micro-level effects of the OXTR rs53576 variant on state levels of loneliness in early adolescents. In addition, gene-environment interactions are examined between this OXTR variant and positive and negative perceptions of company. Data were collected in 278 adolescents (58% girls), by means of the Experience Sampling Method (ESM). Sampling periods consisted of six days with nine assessments per day. A relation was found between the OXTR rs53576 variant and state loneliness, in girls only. Girls carrying an A allele had higher levels of state loneliness than girls carrying the GG genotype. In addition, adolescents with an A allele were more affected by negative perceptions of company than GG carriers, on weekend days only. No significant gene-environment interactions were found with positive company. Adolescents carrying an A allele were more susceptible to negative environments during weekend days than GG carriers. Our findings emphasize the importance of operationalizing the phenotype and the environment accurately.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • DIFFERENTIAL SUSCEPTIBILITY
  • 5-HTT GENES
  • HUMANS
  • ASSOCIATION
  • EXPRESSION
  • EXPERIENCE
  • CHILDHOOD
  • CONTEXT
  • STRESS
  • HEALTH

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    van Roekel, E., Verhagen, M., Scholte, R. H. J., Kleinjan, M., Goossens, L., & Engels, R. C. M. E. (2013). The Oxytocin Receptor Gene (OXTR) in Relation to State Levels of Loneliness in Adolescence. PLoS ONE, 8(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0077689