Psychiatric symptoms in adolescents: FKBP5 genotype–early life adversity interaction effects.


Psychiatric disorders are multi-factorial and their symptoms overlap. Constitutional and environmental factors influence each other, and this contributes to risk and resilience in mental ill-health. We investigated functional genetic variation of stress responsiveness, assessed as FKBP5 genotype, in relation to early life adversity and mental health in two samples of adolescents. One population-based sample of 909 12-year-old adolescents was assessed using the Life Incidence of Traumatic Events scale and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. One sample of 398 17-year-old adolescents, enriched for poly-victimized individuals (USSS), was assessed using the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire and the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC). The FKBP5 rs1360780 and rs3800373 polymorphisms were genotyped using a fluorescence-based competitive allele-specific PCR. Most prominently among poly-victimized older male adolescents, the least common alleles of the polymorphisms, in interaction with adverse life events, were associated with psychiatric symptoms, after controlling for ethno-socio-economic factors. The interaction effect between rs3800373 and adverse life events on the TSCC sub-scales-anxiety, depression, anger, and dissociation-and with the rs1360780 on dissociation in the USSS cohort remained significant after Bonferroni correction. This pattern of association is in line with the findings of clinical and neuroimaging studies, and implies interactive effects of FKBP5 polymorphisms and early life environment on several psychiatric symptoms. These correlates add up to provide constructs that are relevant to several psychiatric symptoms, and to identify early predictors of mental ill-health.