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The role of oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) DNA methylation (DNAm) in human social and emotional functioning: a systematic narrative review

Maud, Catherine, Ryan, Joanne, McIntosh, Jennifer E. and Olsson, Craig A. 2018, The role of oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) DNA methylation (DNAm) in human social and emotional functioning: a systematic narrative review, BMC psychiatry, vol. 18, pp. 1-13, doi: 10.1186/s12888-018-1740-9.

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Title The role of oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) DNA methylation (DNAm) in human social and emotional functioning: a systematic narrative review
Author(s) Maud, Catherine
Ryan, Joanne
McIntosh, Jennifer E.ORCID iD for McIntosh, Jennifer E. orcid.org/0000-0003-4709-5003
Olsson, Craig A.ORCID iD for Olsson, Craig A. orcid.org/0000-0002-5927-2014
Journal name BMC psychiatry
Volume number 18
Article ID 154
Start page 1
End page 13
Total pages 13
Publisher BioMed Central
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2018
ISSN 1471-244X
Keyword(s) DNA methylation
Epigenetics
Human behaviour
Oxytocin gene
Oxytocin receptor gene
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Psychiatry
NEUROTROPHIC FACTOR BDNF
POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
PSYCHOSOCIAL STRESS
RS53576 GENOTYPE
MATERNAL BRAIN
WOMEN
AUTISM
RESPONSES
PSYCHOPATHY
ASSOCIATION
Summary BACKGROUND: The neuropeptide Oxytocin (OXT) plays a central role in birthing, mother-infant bonding and a broad range of related social behaviours in mammals. More recently, interest has extended to epigenetic programming of genes involved in oxytocinergic neurotransmission. This review brings together early findings in a rapidly developing field of research, examining relationships between DNA methylation (DNAm) of the Oxytocin Receptor Gene (OXTR) and social and emotional behaviour in human populations.

METHOD: A systematic search across Web of Knowledge/Science, Scopus, Medline and EMBASE captured all published studies prior to June 2017 examining the association between OXTR DNAm and human social and emotional outcomes. Search terms included 'oxytocin gene' or 'oxytocin receptor gene' and 'epigenetics' or 'DNA methylation'. Any article with a focus on social and emotional functioning was then identified from this set by manual review.

RESULTS: Nineteen studies met eligibility criteria. There was considerable heterogeneity of study populations, tissue samples, instrumentation, measurement, and OXTR site foci. Only three studies examined functional consequences of OXTR DNAm on gene expression and protein synthesis. Increases in OXTR DNAm were associated with callous-unemotional traits in youth, social cognitive deficits in Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), rigid thinking in anorexia nervosa, affect regulation problems, and problems with facial and emotional recognition. In contrast, reductions in DNAm were associated with perinatal stress, postnatal depression, social anxiety and autism in children.

CONCLUSIONS: Consistent with an emerging field of inquiry, there is not yet sufficient evidence to draw conclusions about the role of OXTR DNAm in human social and emotional behaviour. However, taken together, findings point to increased OXTR DNAm in general impairments in social, cognitive and emotional functioning, and decreased OXTR DNAm in specific patterns of impairment related to mood and anxiety disorders (but not in all). Future progress in this field would be enhanced by adequately powered designs, greater phenotypic precision, and methodological improvements including longitudinal studies with multiple time-points to facilitate causal inference.
Language eng
DOI 10.1186/s12888-018-1740-9
Field of Research 170102 Developmental Psychology and Ageing
1103 Clinical Sciences
Socio Economic Objective 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2018, The Authors
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30108972

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Psychology
Open Access Collection
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.