Abstract # 13:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 17, 2010 09:45 AM-09:55 AM: Session 3 (Medallion Ballroom B) Oral Presentation


EVIDENCE FOR ADDITIVE EFFECTS OF GENES AND ENVIRONMENT ON CORTISOL RESPONSE TO STRESS IN ADULT FEMALE VERVETS

L. A. Fairbanks1, M. L. Laudenslager2 and M. J. Jorgensen3
1Semel Institute - UCLA, Department of Psychiatry, 760 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90098, USA, 2Department of Psychiatry and School of Medicine, University of Colorado, Denver, 3Department of Pathology and Primate Center, Wake Forest University
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Reactivity to stress has significant implications for health and well being, and recent research has shown that genetic vulnerability may interact with environmental stressors to produce deleterious outcomes. This study was designed to test genetic and environmental effects on stress reactivity in female vervets, and to determine whether similar or different sets of genes influence cortisol levels in a low stress and higher stress environment. Subjects were 226 adult females (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus) living in matrilineal social groups at the pedigreed Vervet Research Colony. Cortisol levels were measured from hair samples collected in the stable baseline environment, and 6 months after relocation to a novel facility with more frequent interventions. Heritability and genetic correlations were estimated by variance components models using SOLAR. There was a 27% increase in hair cortisol after the relocation [paired t=12.89, P<0.001], with significant genetic contributions to the baseline [h2=0.31, P<0.001] and post-move [h2=0.28, P=0.017] measures. The genetic correlation between the pre- and post-move levels was high [ρG=0.79], indicating the same set of genes influences variation in cortisol in both environments. In contrast, there was no significant genetic contribution to the change in scores between the low and higher stress environments [h2=0.11, P=0.20]. These results support the hypothesis that there are additive effects of genes and environment on cortisol levels assessed in hair, but no evidence for gene-environment interactions.