Abstract # 156:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 18, 2011 05:15 PM-05:30 PM: Session 22 (Meeting Room 410) Oral Presentation


L. A. Fairbanks1, J. N. Bailey1, S. E. Breidenthal1, M. L. Laudenslager2, J. R. Kaplan3 and M. J. Jorgensen3
1University of California at Los Angeles, Semel Institute, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA, 2University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, 3Wake Forest University School of Medicine
     Considerable attention has been paid to identifying genetic influences and gene-environment interactions that increase stress reactivity and vulnerability for depression in humans, with promising but inconsistent results. In this study, we take advantage of relocation of the Vervet Research Colony to assess genetic influences on behavioral response to a stressful life change. Genetic and environmental influences on free choice novelty seeking behavior were assessed in 503 vervets (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus) before and/or after relocation from a low stress to a higher stress environment. Heritability of Novelty Seeking scores, and genetic correlations within and between environments, were conducted using variance components analysis. The results showed that Novelty Seeking was markedly inhibited in the higher stress environment, with effects persisting into the second year following relocation for adults but not for juveniles. There were significant genetic contributions to Novelty Seeking scores in each year (h2 = .35-.43), and to individual change scores from before to after the move (h2 = .48), with high genetic correlations within each environment (rhoG > .80), and a lower genetic correlation (rhoG = .35, ns) between environments. These results indicate that genetic regulation of novelty seeking was modified by the level of environmental stress, thus supporting a role for gene-environment interactions in a behavioral trait with relevance for depression. Supported by NIH (R01-MH61852, R01-MH82147, and P40-RR019963).