Original ArticleDoes 5-HTTLPR moderate the effect of the quality of environmental context on maternal sensitivity? Testing the differential susceptibility hypothesisBaião, Ritaa,,b; Fearon, Pascoc; Belsky, Jayd; Teixeira, Pedroe; Soares, Isabela; Mesquita, Anaa Author Information aCIPsi, School of Psychology, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal bDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford cDepartment of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College of London, London, UK dDepartment of Human Ecology, University of California, Davis, California, USA eSchool of Medicine, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal Received 22 February 2019 Accepted 8 October 2019 Correspondence to Ana Mesquita, PhD, School of Psychology, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal, Tel: +00351 253 601 398; e-mail: [email protected] Psychiatric Genetics: April 2020 - Volume 30 - Issue 2 - p 49-56 doi: 10.1097/YPG.0000000000000247 Buy Metrics Abstract Evidence documenting associations between 5-HTTLPR and parenting behavior led to testing the hypothesis that this polymorphism moderates the effect of the quality of environmental context on maternal sensitivity. Participants were 210 Portuguese mothers and their preschool children, recruited from the community. An index reflecting the quality of the environmental context was derived based on nine markers (e.g. single parenthood; parental education, economic difficulties, family conflict, maternal psychopathology). Maternal sensitivity was measured observationally. Maternal saliva was collected with OraGene kits for genetic analysis. Results revealed a gene-X-environment interaction, such that short-allele homozygotes proved more sensitive to the family context than long-allele carriers (i.e. sL/LL), displaying the highest and lowest levels of maternal sensitivity, depending on, respectively, low and high quality levels of the environmental context. Because even mothers carrying the long allele evinced similar responsiveness to the environmental context, but to a lesser extent, findings proved consistent with the weak differential susceptibility model of person-X-context interaction. Results are discussed in light of prior and related gene-X-environment findings. Copyright © 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.