Serotonin 1B receptor gene (HTR1B) methylation as a risk factor for callous-unemotional traits in antisocial boys

Caroline Moul, Carol Dobson-Stone, John Brennan, David J. Hawes, Mark R. Dadds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

The serotonin system is thought to play a role in the aetiology of callous-unemotional (CU) traits in children. Previous research identified a functional single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) from the promoter region of the serotonin 1B receptor gene as being associated with CU traits in boys with antisocial behaviour problems. This research tested the hypothesis that CU traits are associated with reduced methylation of the promoter region of the serotonin 1B receptor gene due to the influence of methylation on gene expression. Participants (N = 117) were boys with antisocial behaviour problems aged 3-16 years referred to University of New South Wales Child Behaviour Research Clinics. Participants volunteered a saliva sample from which the genotype of a SNP from the promoter region of the serotonin 1B receptor gene and the methylation levels of 30 CpG sites from 3 CpG regions surrounding the location of this polymorphism were assayed. Lower levels of serotonin 1B receptor gene methylation were associated with higher levels of CU traits. This relationship, however, was found to be moderated by genotype and carried exclusively by two CpG sites for which levels of methylation were negatively associated with overall methylation levels in this region of the gene. Results provide support to the emerging literature that argues for a genetically-driven system-wide alteration in serotonin function in the aetiology of CU traits. Furthermore, the results suggest that there may be two pathways to CU traits that involve methylation of the serotonin 1B receptor gene; one that is driven by a genotypic risk and another that is associated with risk for generally increased levels of methylation. Future research that aims to replicate and further investigate these results is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0126903
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2015. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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