Investigating the effects of gene–environment interactions (G × E) with regard to brain structure may help to elucidate the putative mechanisms associated with psychiatric risk. rs1360780 (C/T) is a functional single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the gene encoding FK506–binding protein 5 (FKBP5), which is involved in the regulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis stress responses. The minor (T) allele of FKBP5 is considered a risk allele for stress-related disorders, due to the overproduction of FKBP5, which results in impaired communication of stress signals with the HPA axis. Previous studies have reported that interactions between childhood maltreatment and the rs1360780 genotype affect structures in subcortical areas of the brain. However, it is unclear how this SNP modulates the association between non-adverse environments and brain structure. In this study, we examined the interactive effect of the rs1360780 genotype and maternal acceptance on the regional gray matter volume (rGMV) in 202 Japanese children. Maternal acceptance was assessed using a Japanese psychological questionnaire for mothers. Whole-brain multiple regression analysis using voxel-based morphometry showed a significant positive association between maternal acceptance and rGMV in the left thalamus of T-allele carriers, while a significant negative association was found in C/C homozygotes. Post-hoc analysis revealed that at or below the 70th percentiles of maternal acceptance, the T-allele carriers had a reduced thalamic rGMV compared with that of C/C homozygotes. Thus, our investigation indicated that the effect of the maternal acceptance level on brain development was different, depending on the rs1360780 genotype. Importantly, we found that the differences in brain structure between the T-allele carriers and C/C homozygotes at low to moderate levels of maternal acceptance, which is not equivalent to maltreatment. The present study contributes to the G × E research by highlighting the necessity to investigate the role of non-adverse environmental factors.
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