Publications by authors named "Pingyuan Gong"

41 Publications

OXTR moderates adverse childhood experiences on depressive symptoms among incarcerated males.

J Psychiatr Res 2021 May 23;140:221-227. Epub 2021 May 23.

Psychology Program, School of Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore; Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science, University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy.

Objectives: This study examined the moderation of an oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene in the link between childhood adversity and depressive symptoms among incarcerated males.

Methods: Questionnaires about adverse childhood experiences and depressive symptoms, as well as genomic DNA from blood were collected among 608 incarcerated males (M = 32.4 years, SD = 9.41, 18-74 years). Moderation analysis was applied to examine the interaction between adverse childhood experiences (including abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction) and the OXTR polymorphisms (rs2254298, rs53576) in predicting depressive symptoms.

Results: Incarcerated males had relatively higher prevalence of childhood adversity (70.2%) and depressive symptoms (49.8%). Higher childhood adversity was associated with increased depressive symptoms, and the effect was more pronounced in the GG homozygotes of OXTR rs2254298 (b = 0.406, p < .001), as compared with the AA/AG carriers (b = 0.236, p < .001). By contrast, the OXTR rs53576 did not interact with childhood adversity in predicting depressive symptoms.

Conclusions: Chinese incarcerated males with the GG genotype of OXTR rs2254298 have higher vulnerability in the effect of childhood adversity on depressive symptoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.05.043DOI Listing
May 2021

The BDNF Val66Met polymorphism impacts victim's moral emotions following interpersonal transgression.

Scand J Psychol 2021 Feb 19;62(1):7-12. Epub 2020 Aug 19.

College of Life Science, Northwest University, Xi'an, 710069, China.

Immoral behaviors make individuals abominate and punish transgressors. Inspired by the associations between the Val66Met polymorphism of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) gene and emotional responses following negative events, we investigated whether this polymorphism was also associated moral emotions such as punishment and forgiveness following interpersonal transgression. To do so, we categorized 340 individuals according to the BDNF Val66Met and assessed moral emotions by using 12 hypothetic scenarios in different conditions of intention and interpersonal consequence. The results indicated that this polymorphism was significantly associated with moral aversion and punishment towards transgressors. Victims with the Val/Val genotype expressed less aversion and punishment than the Met carriers, regardless of intention and interpersonal consequence. Moreover, this polymorphism was associated with forgiveness. Victims with the Val/Val genotype expressed more forgiveness than the Met carriers. Taken together, these findings highlight the importance of the BDNF Val66Met to moral emotions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12678DOI Listing
February 2021

The OXTR polymorphisms are not associated with attachment dimensions: A three-approach study.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2020 10 21;120:104780. Epub 2020 Jun 21.

College of Life Science, Northwest University, Xi'an, 710069, China.

Inspired by the roles of oxytocin in social behaviors, scientists have devoted considerable efforts to examine the association between the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) and human attachment, a personality of seek and receiving comfort from intimate figures. However, there are still a lot of controversies on the association. To clarify the relationship, this research integrated three studies: (1) A cross-sectional study indicated that the OXTR polymorphisms (i.e., rs53576 and rs2254298) were not significantly associated with attachment dimensions in a college student sample (N = 1193); (2) A three-wave study showed that the polymorphisms were not associated with the individual differences and changes of attachment dimensions in a freshmen sample (N = 657); and (3) Meta-analysis indicated that attachment dimensions were not associated with the polymorphisms of rs53576 (Anxiety: 14 samples, N = 5053; Avoidance: ten samples, N = 4273) and rs2254298 (Anxiety: ten samples, N = 3670; Avoidance: ten samples, N = 3698). Taken together, these findings provide strong evidence that the OXTR polymorphisms are not related to attachment dimensions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.104780DOI Listing
October 2020

The rs6311 of serotonin receptor 2A (5-HT2A) gene is associated with alexithymia and mental health.

J Affect Disord 2020 07 30;272:277-282. Epub 2020 Apr 30.

College of Life Science, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China; College of Medicine, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China; Shaanxi Key Laboratory for Animal Conservation, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China; Institute of Population and Health, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China. Electronic address:

Backgrounds: Alexithymia, difficulties in identifying and describing one's own feelings, is related to substantial clinical practice. Inspired by the links between serotonin functions and affective disorders, this study investigated associations of the serotonin receptor 2A (5-HT2A) gene with alexithymia and mental health.

Methods: We differentiated subjects according to two functional polymorphisms (i.e., rs6311 and rs6313) of 5-HT2A gene and scored alexithymia and mental health of college students with the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and the Symptom Check List-90 (SCL-90), respectively.

Results: The analyses basing on sample 1 (N = 566) and sample 2 (N = 602) indicated that the G allele of rs6311 was related to higher score on the TAS-20 as compared to the AA genotype. The analysis with 467 individuals from sample 2 indicated that the rs6311 was associated with mental health, and this association was mediated by alexithymia.

Limitations: The potential confounding variables such as depression and anxiety were neglected in the analyses.

Conclusions: These findings demonstrate the contribution of the 5-HT2A to alexithymia, and highlight the link between alexithymia and mental health at genetic level.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.03.153DOI Listing
July 2020

The 5-HTTLPR polymorphism impacts moral permissibility of impersonal harmful behaviors.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2019 08;14(8):911-918

College of Life Science, Northwest University, 710069 Xi'an, China.

Inspired by the roles of serotonin in an emotional aversion to harmful actions, we examined to what extent serotonin transporter gene (5-HTT)-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR), a proxy for measuring serotonin function, underpinned the individual differences in moral judgment through cross-sectional analysis and two-wave comparison. The cross-sectional analysis with a larger cohort (N = 1197) showed that the SS carriers of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism, corresponding to the low ratio of serotonin recycling from the synaptic cleft, rated impersonal harmful actions (e.g. flipping a switch to divert a train to hit one person instead of five people) as more permissible as compared with the L-allele carriers. The two-wave comparison with a subsample from the larger cohort (N = 563) indicated that the association between 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and moral permissibility of impersonal harmful actions was stable from wave 1 to wave 2. Thus, these findings highlight the importance of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism to harmful moral behaviors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsz060DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6847979PMC
August 2019

Revisiting the relationships of 2D:4D with androgen receptor (AR) gene and current testosterone levels: Replication study and meta-analyses.

J Neurosci Res 2020 02 29;98(2):353-370. Epub 2019 Jul 29.

Shaanxi Key Laboratory for Animal Conservation, Northwest University, Xi'an, China.

The relationships of digit ratio (2D:4D) with the length of AR (CAG)n, and testosterone levels from saliva and blood have been extensively debated over the years. This research including three studies further clarifies such controversies. To do so, we re-examined the relationships between the length of AR (CAG)n, 2D:4D, and current testosterone levels, through replication study and meta-analysis for each study. The results indicate: (a) the length of AR (CAG)n is not significantly associated with 2D:4D; (b) current testosterone levels are not significantly associated with the ratio; and (c) the length is not significantly associated with testosterone levels. Thus, AR (CAG)n and current testosterone levels are not significantly related to 2D:4D at individual level.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jnr.24502DOI Listing
February 2020

5-HTTLPR and COMT Val158Met are not associated with alexithymia: New evidence and meta-analyses.

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2019 06 29;92:263-270. Epub 2019 Jan 29.

College of Life Science, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China; Institute of Population and Health, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China; Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China, Ministry of Education, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China. Electronic address:

Backgrounds: Alexithymia refers to the difficulties in identifying and describing one's own emotions, lacking of imagination, and an externally oriented thinking style. Studies up to date have examined the associations of 5-HTTLPR and COMT Val158Met polymorphisms with alexithymia. However, the previous findings were mixed.

Methods: We replicated the associations by scoring on alexithymia with the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale and genotyping the polymorphisms of 5-HTTLPR and COMT Val158Met in a large population of college students (N = 1698). Moreover, we also meta-analyzed the associations with five samples (N = 7517) for the 5-HTTLPR and with five samples (N = 2186) for the COMT Val158Met.

Results: Neither the replicated study nor the meta-analyses indicated the 5-HTTLPR and COMT Val158Met were associated with alexithymia.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that the 5-HTTLPR and COMT Val158Met polymorphisms are not associated with alexithymia. However, genetic-environmental studies with different ethnicity and psychopathology should be carried in future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pnpbp.2019.01.015DOI Listing
June 2019

OXTR rs53576 polymorphism impacts interpersonal adaptability: Dispositional forgiveness as a mediator.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2019 05 28;103:8-13. Epub 2018 Dec 28.

College of Life Science, Northwest University, Xi'an, 710069, China; Institute of Population and Health, Northwest University, Xi'an, 710069, China; Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China, Ministry of Education, Northwest University, Xi'an, 710069, China. Electronic address:

Polymorphisms in the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene have been shown to be related to individual differences in social skills that are important for building and maintaining social relationships, such as the capability to efficiently process social information and regulate emotions. However, what remains unclear is the potential roles of OXTR polymorphisms in interpersonal adaptability, namely the ability to cope with the situational demands of interpersonal interactions. In this study, we examined the roles of OXTR rs53576 polymorphism in interpersonal adaptability, empathic perception, and dispositional forgiveness in a cohort of 573 college freshmen. The results indicated that the scores on interpersonal adaptability and dispositional forgiveness, apart from empathic perception, increased as functions of the number of G alleles of OXTR rs53576. Moreover, dispositional forgiveness, but not empathic perception, mediated the association between OXTR rs53576 and interpersonal adaptability. The findings highlight the influences of the OXTR gene on adaptive interpersonal interactions, especially when individuals face changing social situations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.12.240DOI Listing
May 2019

Independent self-construal mediates the association between CYP19A1 gene variant and subjective well-being.

Conscious Cogn 2017 10 6;55:205-213. Epub 2017 Sep 6.

Shaanxi Key Laboratory for Animal Conservation, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China; Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China, Ministry of Education, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China; College of Life Science, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China; Institute of Population and Health, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China. Electronic address:

Testosterone and estrogen are involved in self-related behavioral dispositions and experiences of subjective well-being. In this study, we investigated to what extent the aromatase (CYP19A1) gene, which encodes an enzyme in converting testosterone into estrogen, contributes to subjective well-being and in another self-related disposition: independent and interdependent self-construal. In study 1, a meta-analysis showed that the GG genotype of CYP19A1 (a G/A substitution at Val80, rs700518) was associated with higher testosterone and lower estradiol. In study 2, an empirical study of individuals with the GG (n=115), AG (n=286) and AA (n=193) genotypes indicated that individuals with the GG genotype exhibited higher independent self-construal and higher subjective well-being. The association between the GG genotype of CYP19A1 Val80 and subjective well-being was mediated by the independent self-construal. Our findings reinforce the idea that personality traits such as independent self-construal explain the link between genetic variant and subjective well-being.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2017.08.012DOI Listing
October 2017

A field study of the association between CD38 gene and altruistic behavior: Empathic response as a mediator.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2017 Nov 12;85:165-171. Epub 2017 Aug 12.

Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences and School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China; Beijing Key Laboratory of Behavior and Mental Health, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China; PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China. Electronic address:

Inspired by the enhancement effects of oxytocin on empathic responses and altruistic behaviors, we conducted a field study with a real fundraising event and investigated to what extent oxytocin pathway genes (CD38 and OXTR) modulate individual differences in charitable donation. Participants were informed that a teacher in their university was diagnosed with uremia and could not afford the cost of medication. They were given the opportunity to donate any amount of money and report their empathic responses to the misfortune of the teacher. We found a significant association between CD38 rs3796863 and the amount of donation both before and after controlling for gender, age, subjective socioeconomic status, religious belief, and social desirability. Individuals with the genotypes (AA/AC) leading to higher oxytocin levels reported stronger empathic responses and donated more money than individuals with the CC genotype. Moreover, empathic response mediated the gene-altruism association. However, we observed no significant associations between the three polymorphisms of OXTR (rs53576, rs2254298, and rs1042778) and the amount of donation. This study demonstrates the importance of CD38 as a source of individual differences in altruistic behavior and highlights the role of empathic response in bridging the link between the oxytocin pathway gene and altruism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.08.010DOI Listing
November 2017

Identifying new susceptibility genes on dopaminergic and serotonergic pathways for the framing effect in decision-making.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2017 09;12(9):1534-1544

Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

The framing effect refers the tendency to be risk-averse when options are presented positively but be risk-seeking when the same options are presented negatively during decision-making. This effect has been found to be modulated by the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) and the catechol-o-methyltransferase gene (COMT) polymorphisms, which are on the dopaminergic and serotonergic pathways and which are associated with affective processing. The current study aimed to identify new genetic variations of genes on dopaminergic and serotonergic pathways that may contribute to individual differences in the susceptibility to framing. Using genome-wide association data and the gene-based principal components regression method, we examined genetic variations of 26 genes on the pathways in 1317 Chinese Han participants. Consistent with previous studies, we found that the genetic variations of the SLC6A4 gene and the COMT gene were associated with the framing effect. More importantly, we demonstrated that the genetic variations of the aromatic-L-amino-acid decarboxylase (DDC) gene, which is involved in the synthesis of both dopamine and serotonin, contributed to individual differences in the susceptibility to framing. Our findings shed light on the understanding of the genetic basis of affective decision-making.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsx062DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5629826PMC
September 2017

Revisiting the impact of OXTR rs53576 on empathy: A population-based study and a meta-analysis.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2017 Jun 9;80:131-136. Epub 2017 Mar 9.

Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences and School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China; Beijing Key Laboratory of Behavior and Mental Health, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China; PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China. Electronic address:

Oxytocin in the brain is related to empathy, which refers to the ability to understand and share others' internal states or responses. Previous studies have investigated the impact of OXTR rs53576, the most intensively examined polymorphism in the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene, on individual differences in empathy. However, these studies produced inconsistent results. In the current study, we reexamined the association of OXTR rs53576 with empathy in a relatively large population (N=1830) and also evaluated the association by a comprehensive meta-analysis (N=6631, 13 independent samples). The replication study indicated that OXTR rs53576 was indeed associated with individual differences in empathy. Individuals with a greater number of G alleles showed better empathic ability, particularly in fantasizing other's feelings and actions. The meta-analysis not only confirmed this association, but also indicated that the impact of this polymorphism was significant in both Europeans and Asians. These findings provide convincing evidence for the impact of OXTR rs53576 on empathy, highlighting the importance of OXTR gene in individuals' social cognition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.03.005DOI Listing
June 2017

The CAG polymorphism in androgen receptor (AR) gene impacts the moral permissibility of harmful behavior in females.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2017 Jun 7;80:74-79. Epub 2017 Mar 7.

China Center for Special Economic Zone Research, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China; Research Center for Brain Function and Psychological Science, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China. Electronic address:

The moral permissibility of harm is strikingly varied among individuals. In light of the connection between testosterone levels and utilitarian moral judgment, this study examined to what extent a CAG polymorphism in the androgen receptor gene, a genetic polymorphism with the ability to regulate testosterone function, contributes to individual differences in moral judgment. Four hundred and thirty-nine Chinese Han participants completed permissibility ratings of harm in moral dilemmas and moral transgression scenarios. Results showed a significant association between the CAG polymorphism and moral permissibility of harm in females. Females with more copies of the S allele, which is associated with higher availability of testosterone, were more likely to judge harmful utilitarian acts and unintentionally harmful acts as permissible, while these effects were absent in males. The findings provide the first evidence for a link between the androgen receptor gene and moral judgment and highlight the role of androgens in moral foundations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.03.008DOI Listing
June 2017

The association between well-being and the COMT gene: Dispositional gratitude and forgiveness as mediators.

J Affect Disord 2017 May 7;214:115-121. Epub 2017 Mar 7.

Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China; PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China; Beijing Key Laboratory of Behavior and Mental Health, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China. Electronic address:

Backround: Previous studies have demonstrated the contributions of genetic variants and positive psychological traits (e.g. gratitude and forgiveness) to well-being. However, little is known about how genes interact with positive traits to affect well-being.

Methods: To investigate to what extent the COMT Val158Met polymorphism modulates well-being and to what extent dispositional gratitude and forgiveness mediate the individual differences in well-being, 445 participants were recruited and required to complete a battery of questionnaires.

Results: We found that individuals with a smaller number of the Met alleles reported greater well-being, less depressive symptoms, and greater tendencies for gratitude and forgiveness. Moreover, dispositional gratitude and forgiveness mediated the genotype effects on well-being and depressive symptoms. These results remained significant after controlling for non-genetic factors (socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, romantic relationship status, parenting style).

Limitation: The sample size limits the generalizability of results.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates the contribution of the COMT Val158Met polymorphism to individual differences in well-being and suggests a potential psychobiological pathway from dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems to happiness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2017.03.005DOI Listing
May 2017

Investigating the Genetic Basis of Social Conformity: The Role of the Dopamine Receptor 3 (DRD3) Gene.

Neuropsychobiology 2016 27;74(1):32-40. Epub 2016 Oct 27.

Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China.

Background: People often change their opinions or behavior to match the responses of others, a phenomenon known as social conformity. Conforming behavior varies substantially across individuals. However, little is known about the genetic basis underlying individual differences in social conformity. A recent study demonstrated an association between enhanced dopaminergic function and increased conforming behavior. Given the effect of the dopamine receptor 3 gene (DRD3) Ser9Gly polymorphism (rs6280) on dopamine release in the striatum, this study investigated to what extent this polymorphism affects conforming behavior.

Methods: We categorized Han Chinese individuals according to the polymorphism and tested them with a facial-attractiveness rating task.

Results: We found that individuals with a greater number of the Gly alleles, which are related to an increased dopamine release in the striatum, were more susceptible to social influence and more likely to change their ratings to match those of other people.

Conclusions: This finding demonstrates the importance of DRD3 Ser9Gly as a genetic basis for social conformity and in predicting individual differences in social learning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000450710DOI Listing
February 2017

Investigating the genetic basis of attention to facial expressions: the role of the norepinephrine transporter gene.

Psychiatr Genet 2016 12;26(6):266-271

aKey Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China, Ministry of Education bShaanxi Key Laboratory for Animal Conservation, Northwest University, Xi'an cLaboratory of Medical Molecular Biology, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang, China.

Objective: Levels of norepinephrine (NE) in the brain are related to attention ability in animals and risk of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in humans. Given the modulation of the norepinephrine transporter (NET) on NE levels in the brain and the link between NE and attention impairment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, it was possible that the NET gene underpinned individual differences in attention processes in healthy populations.

Methods: To investigate to what extent NET could modulate one's attention orientation to facial expressions, we categorized individuals according to the genotypes of the -182 T/C (rs2242446) polymorphism and measured individuals' attention orientation with the spatial cueing task.

Results: Our results indicated that the -182 T/C polymorphism significantly modulated attention orientation to facial expressions, of which the CC genotype facilitated attention reorientation to the locations where cued faces were previously presented. However, this polymorphism showed no significant effects on the regulations of emotional cues on attention orientation.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the NET gene modulates the individual difference in attention to facial expressions, which provides new insights into the roles of NE in social interactions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/YPG.0000000000000146DOI Listing
December 2016

Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene modulates private self-consciousness and self-flexibility.

Conscious Cogn 2016 08 12;44:186-192. Epub 2016 Aug 12.

Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China (Ministry of Education), College of Life Science, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China; Shaanxi Key Laboratory for Animal Conservation, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China; Laboratory of Medical Molecular Biology, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang 471003, China. Electronic address:

Dopamine levels in the brain influence human consciousness. Inspired by the role of Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) in inactivating dopamine in the brain, we investigated to what extent COMT could modulate individual's self-consciousness dispositions and self-consistency by genotyping the COMT Val158Met (rs4680) polymorphism and measuring self-consciousness and self-consistency and congruence in a college student population. The results indicated that COMT Val158Met polymorphism significantly modulated the private self-consciousness. The individuals with Val/Val genotype, corresponding to lower dopamine levels in the brain, were more likely to be aware of their feelings and beliefs. The results also indicated that this polymorphism modulated one's self-flexibility. The individuals with Val/Val genotype showed higher levels of stereotype in self-concept compared with those with Met/Met genotype. These findings suggest that COMT is a predictor of the individual differences in self-consciousness and self-flexibility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2016.08.001DOI Listing
August 2016

COMT Val158Met polymorphism influences the susceptibility to framing in decision-making: OFC-amygdala functional connectivity as a mediator.

Hum Brain Mapp 2016 May 25;37(5):1880-92. Epub 2016 Feb 25.

Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing, 100871, China.

Individuals tend to avoid risk in a gain frame, in which options are presented in a positive way, but seek risk in a loss frame, in which the same options are presented negatively. Previous studies suggest that emotional responses play a critical role in this "framing effect." Given that the Met allele of COMT Val158Met polymorphism (rs4680) is associated with the negativity bias during emotional processing, this study investigated whether this polymorphism is associated with individual susceptibility to framing and which brain areas mediate this gene-behavior association. Participants were genotyped, scanned in resting state, and completed a monetary gambling task with options (sure vs risky) presented as potential gains or losses. The Met allele carriers showed a greater framing effect than the Val/Val homozygotes as the former gambled more than the latter in the loss frame. Moreover, the gene-behavior association was mediated by resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) between orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and bilateral amygdala. Met allele carriers showed decreased RSFC, thereby demonstrating higher susceptibility to framing than Val allele carriers. These findings demonstrate the involvement of COMT Val158Met polymorphism in the framing effect in decision-making and suggest RSFC between OFC and amygdala as a neural mediator underlying this gene-behavior association. Hum Brain Mapp 37:1880-1892, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.23142DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6867526PMC
May 2016

Polymorphic variation in CHAT gene modulates general cognitive ability: An association study with random student cohort.

Neurosci Lett 2016 Mar 6;617:122-6. Epub 2016 Feb 6.

Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China (Ministry of Education), Institute of Population and Health, College of Life Science, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China. Electronic address:

The choline O-acetyltransferase (CHAT) gene has been associated with various human disorders that involve cognitive impairment or deficiency. However, the influence of disease-associated variants of CHAT on normal individuals remains dubious. Here we demonstrated the impact of CHAT sequence variants (G-120A) on general human cognitive ability in a cohort of 750 Chinese undergraduate students. A multiple choice questionnaire was used to obtain basic demographic information, such as parents' occupations and education levels. We also administered and scored the Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices (RSPM). A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Kruskal-Wallis test (K-W) revealed a significant association between sequence polymorphisms of G-120A and individuals' Raven score (p=0.031 for ANOVA and p=0.026 for K-W tests). Moreover, further hierarchical analysis showed a similar trend in the association between G-120A variants and Raven scores only in the female subjects (p=0.008 for ANOVA and p=0.024 for K-W tests) but not in the male subjects. The results of a multiple linear regression confirmed that after we controlled gender, age, birthplace and other non-genetic factors, CHAT G-120A polymorphisms still significantly influenced individual Raven scores (B=-0.70, SE=0.28, t=-2.50, p=0.013). Our results demonstrated that sequence variants of CHAT were associated with human cognitive ability in not only patients with psychiatric disorders but also normal healthy individuals. However, some issues remained indeterminable, such as gender differences and the extent of the influence on individuals' general cognitive abilities; thus, the further research using an independent random sample was required.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2016.02.002DOI Listing
March 2016

Serotonin receptor gene (HTR2A) T102C polymorphism modulates individuals' perspective taking ability and autistic-like traits.

Front Hum Neurosci 2015 23;9:575. Epub 2015 Oct 23.

Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Department of Psychology, Peking University Beijing, China ; Key Laboratory of Machine Perception (Ministry of Education), Peking University Beijing, China ; IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Peking University Beijing, China.

Previous studies have indicated that empathic traits, such as perspective taking, are associated with the levels of serotonin in the brain and with autism spectrum conditions. Inspired by the finding that the serotonin receptor 2A gene (HTR2A) modulates the availability of serotonin, this study investigated to what extent HTR2A modulates individuals' perspective taking ability and autistic-like traits. To examine the associations of the functional HTR2A polymorphism T102C (rs6313) with individuals' perspective taking abilities and autistic-like traits, we differentiated individuals according to this polymorphism and measured empathic and autistic-like traits with Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) and Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) scale in 523 Chinese people. The results indicated that this polymorphism was significantly associated with the scores on Perspective Taking and Personal Distress subscales of IRI, and Communication subscale of AQ. Individuals with a greater number of the C alleles were less likely to spontaneously adopt the point of view of others, more likely to be anxious when observing the pain endured by others, and more likely to have communication problems. Moreover, the genotype effect on communication problems was mediated by individuals' perspective taking ability. These findings provide evidence that the HTR2A T102C polymorphism is a predictor of individual differences in empathic and autistic-like traits and highlight the role of the gene in the connection between perspective taking and autistic-like traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00575DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4615938PMC
November 2015

Adipose differentiation-related protein is not involved in hypoxia inducible factor-1-induced lipid accumulation under hypoxia.

Mol Med Rep 2015 Dec 26;12(6):8055-61. Epub 2015 Oct 26.

Department of Pathology, Harbin Medical University, Harbin, Heilongjiang 150086, P.R. China.

Increasing evidence has showed that hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF1) has an important role in hypoxia-induced lipid accumulation, a common feature of solid tumors; however, its role remains to be fully elucidated. Adipose differentiation‑related protein (ADRP), a structural protein of lipid droplets, is found to be upregulated under hypoxic conditions. In the present study, an MCF7 breast cancer cell line was used to study the role of ADRP in hypoxia‑induced lipid accumulation. It was demonstrated that hypoxia induced the gene expression of ADRP in a HIF1‑dependent manner. Increases in the mRNA and protein levels of ADRP was accompanied by increased HIF1A activity. In addition, a significant decrease in the mRNA and protein levels of ADRP were detected in presence of siRNA targeting HIF1A. Using a dual‑luciferase reporting experiment and chromatin immunoprecipitation assay, the present study demonstrated that ADRP is a direct target gene of HIF1, and identified a functional hypoxia response element localized 33 bp upstream of the transcriptional start site of the ADRP gene. Furthermore, the present study demonstrated the role of ADRP in low density liporotein (LDL) and very‑LDL uptake‑induced lipid accumulation under hypoxia. The knockdown of ADRP did not reduce HIF1‑induced lipid accumulation under hypoxia. Together, these results showed that ADRP may be not involved in HIF1-induced lipid accumulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/mmr.2015.4488DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4758336PMC
December 2015

A New Role for LOC101928437 in Non-Syndromic Intellectual Disability: Findings from a Family-Based Association Test.

PLoS One 2015 19;10(8):e0135669. Epub 2015 Aug 19.

Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China (Ministry of Education), College of Life Science, Institute of Population and Health, Northwest University, Xi'an, China.

Non-syndromic intellectual disability (NSID) is mental retardation in persons of normal physical appearance who have no recognisable features apart from obvious deficits in intellectual functioning and adaptive ability; however, its genetic etiology of most patients has remained unknown. The main purpose of this study was to fine map and identify specific causal gene(s) by genotyping a NSID family cohort using a panel of markers encompassing a target region reported in a previous work. A total of 139 families including probands, parents and relatives were included in the household survey, clinical examinations and intelligence tests, recruited from the Qinba mountain region of Shannxi province, western China. A collection of 34 tagged single nucleotide polymorphisms (tSNPs) spanning five microsatellite marker (STR) loci were genotyped using an iPLEX Gold assay. The association between tSNPs and patients was analyzed by family-based association testing (FBAT) and haplotype analysis (HBAT). Four markers (rs5974392, rs12164331, rs5929554 and rs3116911) in a block that showed strong linkage disequilibrium within the first three introns of the LOC101928437 locus were found to be significantly associated with NSID (all P<0.01) by the FBAT method for a single marker in additive, dominant and recessive models. The results of haplotype tests of this block also revealed a significant association with NSID (all P<0.05) using 2-window and larger HBAT analyses. These results suggest that LOC101928437 is a novel candidate gene for NSID in Han Chinese individuals of the Qinba region of China. Although the biological function of the gene has not been well studied, knowledge about this gene will provide insights that will increase our understanding of NSID development.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0135669PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4545728PMC
May 2016

The association between romantic relationship status and 5-HT1A gene in young adults.

Sci Rep 2014 Nov 20;4:7049. Epub 2014 Nov 20.

1] Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China [2] Key Laboratory of Machine Perception (Ministry of Education), Peking University, Beijing 100871, China [3] PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.

What factors determine whether or not a young adult will fall in love? Sociological surveys and psychological studies have shown that non-genetic factors, such as socioeconomic status, external appearance, and personality attributes, are crucial components in romantic relationship formation. Here we demonstrate that genetic variants also contribute to romantic relationship formation. As love-related behaviors are associated with serotonin levels in the brain, this study investigated to what extent a polymorphism (C-1019G, rs6295) of 5-HT1A gene is related to relationship status in 579 Chinese Han people. We found that 50.4% of individuals with the CC genotype and 39.0% with CG/GG genotype were in romantic relationship. Logistic regression analysis indicated that the C-1019G polymorphism was significantly associated with the odds of being single both before and after controlling for socioeconomic status, external appearance, religious beliefs, parenting style, and depressive symptoms. These findings provide, for the first time, direct evidence for the genetic contribution to romantic relationship formation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep07049DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4238299PMC
November 2014

A 9-nucleotide Ins/Del in ADRA2B modulates orientation of attention to facial expressions and emotional words.

Behav Pharmacol 2014 Dec;25(8):717-24

aLaboratory of Medical Molecular Biology, College of Medical, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang bKey Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China, Ministry of Education, Northwest University, Xi'an, China.

Norepinephrine is involved in the arousal of attention and the treatment of affective disorders. Therefore, we hypothesized that adrenergic receptors underpinned individual differences in attention regulation and emotional processes of healthy populations. Here, we investigated to what extent the expression of ADRA2B, an adrenergic receptor, modulated attention regulation and emotional processes. We evaluated orientation of attention, emotion regulation, and pleasantness ratings of expressions and words in 665 college students, and then genotyped the +901 Ins/Del variants in ADRA2B of these participants. The results indicated that +901 Ins/Del significantly modulated orientation of attention to facial expressions and emotional words, such that the Del allele facilitated reorientation to the originally attended locations. However, this polymorphism exerted no significant effects on emotional regulation of attention and pleasantness ratings of emotional stimulus. These findings suggest that ADRA2B is closely related to the individual difference in human attention orientation, but not to the individual difference in emotional processing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/FBP.0000000000000089DOI Listing
December 2014

Serotonin receptor gene (5-HT1A) modulates alexithymic characteristics and attachment orientation.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2014 Dec 16;50:274-9. Epub 2014 Sep 16.

Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China; Key Laboratory of Machine Perception (Ministry of Education), Peking University, Beijing 100871, China; PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China. Electronic address:

Previous studies have indicated that alexithymia is associated with the availability of serotonin in the brain and with the insecure attachment orientation. Inspired by the finding that the receptor 5-HT1A modulates the level of serotonin in the brain, this study investigated to what extent a polymorphism (C-1019G, rs6295) of 5-HT1A gene modulates individuals' alexithymic characteristics and attachment orientation in 504 Chinese Han people. Results showed significantly higher total scores on the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) for individuals carrying the CG/GG genotype than for individuals carrying the CC genotype. Specifically, individuals with the CG/GG genotype reported greater difficulty in identifying own feelings than individuals with the CC genotype. Results also showed that individuals carrying the CG/GG genotype seemed to be less comfortable with having close relationships to others than individuals with the CC genotype. These findings provide the first evidence for the link between 5-HT1A and the development of alexithymic characteristics and attachment orientation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.09.001DOI Listing
December 2014

Genetic variations in COMT and DRD2 modulate attentional bias for affective facial expressions.

PLoS One 2013 2;8(12):e81446. Epub 2013 Dec 2.

Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing, China ; Laboratory of Medical Molecular Biology, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang, China ; Institute of Population and Health, College of Life Science, Northwest University, Xi'an, China.

Studies have revealed that catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and dopaminegic receptor2 (DRD2) modulate human attention bias for palatable food or tobacco. However, the existing evidence about the modulations of COMT and DRD2 on attentional bias for facial expressions was still limited. In the study, 650 college students were genotyped with regard to COMT Val158Met and DRD2 TaqI A polymorphisms, and the attentional bias for facial expressions was assessed using the spatial cueing task. The results indicated that COMT Val158Met underpinned the individual difference in attentional bias for negative emotional expressions (P = 0.03) and the Met carriers showed more engagement bias for negative expressions than the Val/Val homozygote. On the contrary, DRD2 TaqIA underpinned the individual difference in attentional bias for positive expressions (P = 0.003) and individuals with TT genotype showed much more engagement bias for positive expressions than the individuals with CC genotype. Moreover, the two genes exerted significant interactions on the engagements for negative and positive expressions (P = 0.046, P = 0.005). These findings suggest that the individual differences in the attentional bias for emotional expressions are partially underpinned by the genetic polymorphisms in COMT and DRD2.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0081446PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3846795PMC
September 2014

Dopamine beta-hydroxylase gene modulates individuals' empathic ability.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2014 Sep 29;9(9):1341-5. Epub 2013 Aug 29.

Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, Laboratory of Medical Molecular Biology, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang 471003, China, Key Laboratory of Machine Perception (Ministry of Education) and PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, Laboratory of Medical Molecular Biology, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang 471003, China, Key Laboratory of Machine Perception (Ministry of Education) and PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China Center for Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, Laboratory of Medical Molecular Biology, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang 471003, China, Key Laboratory of Machine Perception (Ministry of Education) and PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China

Dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH), an enzyme that converts dopamine to norepinephrine, has broad influences on social functions. In this study, we examined to what extent two polymorphisms (-1021C/T and a 19 bp insertion/deletion) in DBH gene modulate individuals' empathic perception and response, which were measured, respectively, by reading the mind in the eyes test and the empathic concern subscale of interpersonal reactivity index. Results showed that polymorphism at -1021C/T, but not the 19 bp insertion/deletion, accounts for 2.3% variance of empathic perception and 1.4% variance of empathic response. Individuals with the CC genotype, which is associated with higher DBH activity, manifested greater empathic ability than those with CT/TT genotypes. These findings demonstrate the importance of DBH -1021C/T as a genetic basis of empathy and in predicting individual differences in social and affective processing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/scan/nst122DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4158372PMC
September 2014

Effect of Val66Met polymorphism in BDNF on attentional bias in an extroverted Chinese Han population.

Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars) 2013 ;73(2):280-8

College of Medicine, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang, China.

Studies have indicated that a functional polymorphism (Val66Met) in a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene can influences human cognitive functions and mood disorders. In this study, we examined associations of BDNF Val66Met with attentional bias and personality in an unaffected population. The results showed that BDNF Val66Met was significantly associated with attentional disengagement for positive cueing words in extraverts. Moreover, there was a positive correlation between the dosages of Met allele and attentional disengagement, however, we did not observe any significant influences of BDNF Val66Met on personality traits. These preliminary results indicate that the individual differences in attentional bias for positive words are partially underpinned by BDNF.
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December 2013

The effects of DBH, MAOA, and MAOB on attentional biases for facial expressions.

J Mol Neurosci 2013 Mar 5;49(3):606-13. Epub 2012 Oct 5.

The Laboratory of Pharmacology and Medical Molecular Biology, College of Medicine, Henan University of Science and Technology, 6 Anhui Road, Luoyang, 471003, China.

Attentional bias is the interaction that occurs between emotion and attention. Monoamine oxidase and dopamine β-hydroxylase are involved in the balances of neurotransmitters in the cortex. Much evidence has shown that those enzymes play important roles in human emotion and attention. To investigate the potential influences of some functional polymorphisms in DBH, MAOA, and MAOB on attentional bias, we performed a population-based study in a young Chinese Han group. The results indicated that -1021C/T in DBH was associated with index effect of the neutral facial expressions in spatial cueing task (F = 4.940, P = 0.007), and there was a positive correlation between the dosage of C allele and the index effect (r = 0.068, P = 0.040). Furthermore, we found significant interactions between 19-bp Ins/Del in DBH and VNTR of MAOA on attentional biases for negative expressions in spatial cueing task (F = 3.397, P = 0.009) and dot-probe task (F = 2.827, P = 0.024). The present study suggests that DBH and MAOA can influence human attentional biases, and there is a gene-gene interaction between the DBH and MAOA on attentional bias for negative expressions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12031-012-9894-2DOI Listing
March 2013

An association study on the polymorphisms of dopaminergic genes with working memory in a healthy Chinese Han population.

Cell Mol Neurobiol 2012 Aug 24;32(6):1011-9. Epub 2012 Feb 24.

Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China (Ministry of Education), College of Life Science, Institute of Population and Health, Northwest University, Xi'an, China.

Working memory (WM) is a highly heritable cognitive trait that is involved in many higher-level cognitive functions. In the past few years, much evidence has indicated that the reduction of dopamine activity in human brain can impair the WM system of the neuropsychiatric disorders. In this study, we hypothesized that some genes in the dopamine system were involved in the individual difference of the cognitive ability in healthy population. To confirm this hypothesis, a population-based study was performed to examine the effects of COMT, DAT (1), DRD (1), DRD (2), DRD (3), and DRD (4) on WM spans. Our results indicated there were significant associations of TaqIA and TaqIB in DRD (2) with digital WM span, respectively (χ(2) = 9.460, p = 0.009; χ(2) = 6.845, p = 0.033). On the other hand, we found a significant interaction between Ser9Gly in DRD (3) and TaqIA of DRD (2) on digital WM span (F = 3.207, p = 0.013). COMT, DAT (1) , DRD (1), and DRD (4), however, had no significant effects on digital and spatial WM spans (χ(2)<3.84, p > 0.05). These preliminary results further indicated that certain functional variants in dopamine system, such as TaqIA and TaqIB of DRD (2), were possibly involved in difference of WM in a healthy population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10571-012-9817-3DOI Listing
August 2012