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Original Article
July 2004

Childhood Adversity, Monoamine Oxidase A Genotype, and Risk for ConductDisorder

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Human Genetics (Drs Foley, Eaves, Silberg,Maes, and Riley) and Psychiatry (Drs Eaves, Kuhn, and Riley and Mr Wormley),Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, and the MasseyCancer Center (Dr Maes), Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2004;61(7):738-744. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.61.7.738

Background  Very little is known about how different sets of risk factors interact to influence risk for psychiatric disorder.

Objective  To replicate a recent report of a genotype-environment interaction that predicts risk for antisocial behavior in boys.

Design  Characterizing risk for conduct disorder in boys in association with monoamine oxidase A genotype and exposure to familial adversity, defined by interparental violence, parental neglect, and inconsistent discipline.

Setting  A community-based sample of twin boys.

Participants  Five hundred fourteen male twins aged 8 to 17 years.

Main Outcome Measure  Conduct disorder.

Results  There was a main effect of adversity but not of monoamine oxidase A on risk for conduct disorder. Low monoamine oxidase A activity increased risk for conduct disorder only in the presence of an adverse childhood environment. Neither a passive nor an evocative genotype-environment correlation accounted for the interaction.

Conclusion  This study replicates a recent report of a genotype-environment interaction that predicts individual variation in risk for antisocial behavior in boys.