Childhood maltreatment, serotonin transporter gene, and risk for callous and unemotional traits: A prospective investigation.Psychiatry Res. 2020 09; 291:113271.PR
Previous studies have reported associations between the serotonin transporter 5-HTTLPR genotype and antisocial and aggressive traits and between child maltreatment and antisocial traits. However, few studies have examined whether 5-HTTLPR moderates the influence of childhood maltreatment on callous and unemotional traits, a hallmark of psychopathy. Using a prospective cohort design, children with documented cases of maltreatment and matched controls were followed up and interviewed in adulthood. DNA was extracted from blood and saliva (N = 414) and callous-unemotional (CU) traits were assessed. Childhood maltreatment predicted higher CU scores in adulthood, whereas the effect of 5-HTTLPR was not significant. The effect of child maltreatment on CU traits did not differ by genetic risk (high or low activity 5-HTTLPR), whereas controls with the LL genotype had higher CU scores than controls with the SS genotype. Similar results were found for females and White, non-Hispanics, but not for males and Blacks. Variations in 5-HTTLPR did not affect the impact of child maltreatment on CU traits in adulthood. Genetic risk had a stronger effect on adults with lower environmental risk (controls). Having a history of child maltreatment or the LL genotype placed participants at risk for higher levels of callous and unemotional trait scores.