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The role of gene x social environment interactions in psychiatric disorders

Hogezand, L. L. van (2016) The role of gene x social environment interactions in psychiatric disorders. Bachelor's Thesis, Biology.

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Abstract

The role of genes in psychiatric disorders (PDs) has long been suspected based on the observation that such diseases often run in families. However, genes cannot account for all risk in the development of PDs as environmental factors, such as stressful life events, also affect the risk of developing PDs. Social environment is of particular interest, because the variation in the quality of the social environment created by ‘the genotype’ of a person is subject to selection and evolution and it is relatively easy to manipulate, offering the opportunity for treatment or prevention of PDs. This thesis looks into the interaction between genes and social environment in psychiatric disorders. In ADHD, depression and hyper-aggression these interactions have a major effect. Interestingly, most of the genes mentioned in this paper interact with social environment in a ‘for better or worse’ manner. Instead of being just risk genes in an adverse environment, children carrying these genes and living in a nurturing environment grow up to have less symptoms of psychiatric disorders. These children even benefit most from parent intervention training. The phenomenon of ‘indirect genetic effects’, behaviour of others (in part due to their genetics) affects our own behaviour, is a very possible way in which small gene expression and social environment alterations can influence the development of PDs. Because g x se interactions play such an important role in the development of PDs, I recommend to look further into these interactions, with a strong emphasis on the social environment and its evolution, instead of looking at them in an isolated fashion. Insight in these interactions could lead to better treatment and intervention/prevention, giving way to personalized medicine. More importantly, adaptation of the (social) environment to the genotype could give an even higher advantage than manipulating the genome or administrating drugs.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:12
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:12
URI: http://fse.studenttheses.ub.rug.nl/id/eprint/13894

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