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The link between parental psychological control, depressive symptoms and epigenetic changes in the glucocorticoid receptor gene (NR3C1)

Chubar, V; Luyten, P; Goossens, L; Bekaert, B; Bleys, D; Soenens, B; Claes, S; (2020) The link between parental psychological control, depressive symptoms and epigenetic changes in the glucocorticoid receptor gene (NR3C1). Physiology and Behavior , 227 , Article 113170. 10.1016/j.physbeh.2020.113170.

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Abstract

Aims: This paper examines the relationship between parental Psychological Control (PC) and depressive symptoms in adolescents and assesses whether this relationship was mediated by DNA methylation, focusing on the glucocorticoid receptor gene (NR3C1), which plays a crucial role in HPA-axis functioning and is linked to environmental stress and depression. This is among the very few studies that looked at the relation between DNA methylation, environmental stress and depression in family trios. Methods: The study cohort consisted of 250 families: father, mother and a biologically related adolescent (adolescents (48.9% boys), mean age: 15.14, SD= 1.9; mean age mothers: 45.83, SD= 4.2; mean age fathers: 47.77, SD= 4.7). Depressive symptoms and PC were measured in adolescents and in both parents. DNA methylation levels in NR3C1 were examined in all participants. Results: Depressive symptoms in adolescents were predicted by PC of both mothers and fathers. Moreover, maternal depressive symptoms were associated with maternal PC, and fathers’ depressive symptoms and PC. In fathers, only the level of their self-reported PC was associated with their depressive symptoms. There was no relation between adolescents’ DNA methylation and depressive symptoms or the level of parental PC. Yet, there was a significant association between maternal depressive symptoms and maternal epigenetic patterns in NR3C1. Conclusions: These findings highlight the need for more research in order to better understand the biological and contextual mechanisms through which parenting and parental emotional well-being is related to the development of psychopathology.

Type: Article
Title: The link between parental psychological control, depressive symptoms and epigenetic changes in the glucocorticoid receptor gene (NR3C1)
DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2020.113170
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2020.113170
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10110115
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