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Letters to the Editor
November 3, 2008

Child Abuse and Adult Major Depression: No Evidence of Protective Gene

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65(11):1336-1337. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.65.11.1336

In “Influence of Child Abuse on Adult Depression: Moderation by the Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone Receptor Gene,”1 Bradley et al studied 2 independent samples to test for associations of corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor gene (CRHR1) polymorphisms with adult depressive symptoms following early child abuse. The authors grounded this study in past work that identified hyperactivity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in major mood disorders. The authors concluded, “These data support the corticotropin-releasing hormone hypothesis of depression.”1(p190) The principal basis for this conclusion was that “Specific CRHR1 polymorphisms appeared to moderate the effect of child abuse on the risk for adult depressive symptoms.”1(p190) From the frequent use of alternative terms such as adult depression and major depressive disorder (MDD), it appears that the authors considered “depressive symptoms” a proxy for MDD in studying the first sample. There is no corticotropin-releasing hormone hypothesis of adult depressive symptoms. In the second sample, the focus was explicitly on MDD.

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