Midwest Nursing Research Society (MNRS) Annual Conference

Document Type

Conference Proceeding




Problem: Most individuals experience at least one potentially traumatic event (PTE), such as tornado, in their lifetime. When exposed to PTEs, some individuals are more vulnerable to psychopathology, such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In contrast, other individuals are better able to cope with PTEs and maintain their psychological health. Such individuals are often described as psychologically resilient. Resilience is heritable, influenced by multiple genes including the Serotonin-Transporter-Linked Polymorphic Region (5-HTTLPR), the most studied candidate gene. Because resilience is polygenic, it is important to consider the influence of multiple genes in addition to 5-HTTLPR when studying the heritable component of resilience. Identifying additional candidate genes is the first step in constructing an Additive Genetic Resilience Index.

Purpose: The purpose is to determine the polygenetic contributions of selected genes to resilience after exposure to stress and PTEs.

Search: PubMed, EMBASE, PsychINFO, and CINAHL databases were searched in October 2014. The keywords included “resilience”, “serotonin transporter gene”, and “5-HTTLPR”. Inclusion criteria were: (1) human subjects approved research, (2) published in English, (3) peer-reviewed research articles, (4) both genotypes and resilience measured, and (5) 5-HTTLPR and additional gene(s) investigated.

Results: Studies that examined 5-HTTLPR, additional gene(s), and resilience were selected (n = 8). Level of evidence was IV (i.e., well-designed case-control and cohort studies).

Synthesis: Candidate genes for resilience in addition to 5-HTTLPR included: Catechol-O-Methyl Transferase (COMT), Monoamine Oxidase A (MAOA), Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), Dopamine Receptor D2 (DRD2) and D4 (DRD4), Corticotropin Releasing Hormone Receptor 1 (CRHR1), and Oxytocin Receptor (OXTR) genes. The variants associated with resilience were: the L allele of 5-HTTLPR, Met allele of COMT, 3.5 or greater repeaters of MAOA, Val allele of BDNF, A1 allele of DRD2, S allele of DRD4, 1 or 2 copies of CRHR1, and G allele of OXTR. A notable gap is the lack of adult samples.

Practice implications: An Additive Genetic Resilience Index can be developed to examine an association between psychological resilience and multiple candidate genes. A validated genetic resilience index will help identify individuals at greater heritable risk for psychological problems after exposure to PTEs.