Extinction learning is an important mechanism in the successful psychological treatment of anxiety. Individual differences in response and relapse following Cognitive Behavior Therapy may in part be explained by variability in the ease with which fears are extinguished or the vulnerability of these fears to re-emerge. Given the role of the endocannabinoid system in fear extinction, this study investigates whether genetic variation in the endocannabinoid system explains individual differences in response to CBT. Children (N = 1,309) with a primary anxiety disorder diagnosis were recruited. We investigated the relationship between variation in the CNR1, CNR2, and FAAH genes and change in primary anxiety disorder severity between pre- and post-treatment and during the follow-up period in the full sample and a subset with fear-based anxiety disorder diagnoses. Change in symptom severity during active treatment was nominally associated (P < 0.05) with two SNPs. During the follow-up period, five SNPs were nominally associated with a poorer treatment response (rs806365 [CNR1]; rs2501431 [CNR2]; rs2070956 [CNR2]; rs7769940 [CNR1]; rs2209172 [FAAH]) and one with a more favorable response (rs6928813 [CNR1]). Within the fear-based subset, the effect of rs806365 survived multiple testing corrections (P < 0.0016). We found very limited evidence for an association between variants in endocannabinoid system genes and treatment response once multiple testing corrections were applied. Larger, more homogenous cohorts are needed to allow the identification of variants of small but statistically significant effect and to estimate effect sizes for these variants with greater precision in order to determine their potential clinical utility.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics|
|Early online date||27 Jun 2016|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 2017|
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- Cognitive Behavior Therapy
- fear extinction