Development and Psychopathology

Research Article

Interactions of child maltreatment and serotonin transporter and monoamine oxidase A polymorphisms: Depressive symptomatology among adolescents from low socioeconomic status backgrounds

Dante Cicchettia1 c1, Fred A. Rogoscha2 and Melissa L. Sturge-Applea2

a1 University of Minnesota

a2 University of Rochester


Child maltreatment and polymorphisms of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) and monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) genes were examined in relation to depressive symptomatology. Adolescents (M age = 16.7 years) from low socioeconomic backgrounds with a history of child maltreatment (n = 207) or no such history (n = 132) were interviewed and provided buccal cells for genetic analysis. Gene × environment interactions were observed. Heightened depressive symptoms were found only among extensively maltreated youth with low MAOA activity. Among comparably maltreated youth with high MAOA activity, self-coping strategies related to lower symptoms. Sexual abuse and the 5-HTT short/short genotype predicted higher depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms. This Gene × Environment interaction was further moderated by MAOA activity level. The results highlight the protective functions of genetic polymorphisms and coping strategies in high risk youth and offer direction for understanding resilience and its promotion from a multiple levels of analysis perspective.


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Dante Cicchetti, Institute of Child Development and Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, 51 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455.


This research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (DA12903) and the Spunk Fund, Inc. to Dante Cicchetti. We value the dedicated work of Jennifer A. Blender in the genetics laboratory.