Predicting behavior problems in korean preschoolers: interactions of the SLC6A4 gene and maternal negative affectivity

Junghee Ha, Hey Jung Jun, Hyewon Shin, Ick Joong Chung, Eunmie Park, Sung Kil Min, Eunjoo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study aimed to investigate whether maternal negative affectivity (MNA) moderates the effect of genetic polymorphism of SLC6A4 on behavior problems in children. Methods: Study participants comprised 143 preschoolers and their mothers from South Korea. The Childhood Behavior Checklist and Emotionality, Activity, and Sociability adult scale were used to measure child behavior and maternal affectivity. DNA from saliva was genotyped to determine serotonin transporter polymorphism. Results: MNA appeared to exert effects in externalizing (b =5.78, p0.001) and internalizing problems (b =6.09, p0.001). Interaction between SLCA4 polymorphism and MNA showed effects on externalizing (b =7.62, p0.01) and internalizing problems (b =9.77, p0.01). Children with two short alleles showed considerable differences in both externalizing and internalizing problems according to MNA; however, children with one short allele or none showed relatively few differences in behavior problems due to maternal affectivity. Conclusion: The effect of SLC6A4 polymorphism on child behavior seemed to be moderated by MNA. In addition, the impact of MNA was found to vary based on a child's genetic risk. High MNA may trigger the risk allele while low MNA causes the risk allele to illicit less behavior problems. Children with two short variants of the SLC6A4 gene may benefit from intervention that modulates MNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-210
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by research grants funded by the Samsung Welfare Foundation. We thank the participants who volunteered their time for this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Korean College of Neuropsychopharmacology. All rights reserved.


  • Child behavior
  • Gene-environment interaction
  • Maternal behavior
  • SLC6A4 protein


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