Several genetic and environmental factors place youth offspring of parents with bipolar disorder (BD) at high risk for developing mood and anxiety disorders. Recent studies suggest that anxiety symptoms, even at subclinical levels, have been associated with an increased risk for developing BD. The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene has been implicated in the pathophysiology of both BD and anxiety disorders. We aimed to explore whether anxiety in BD offspring was associated with the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism. 64 BD offspring (mean age: 13.73 (S.D. 3.45) M = 30, F = 34) and 51 HC (mean age: 13.68 (S.D. 2.68) M = 23, F = 28) were compared on presence of the met allele and on scores from the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC). To assess family function, we used the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales (FACES-IV). The Baron & Kenny method was the statistical approach used to examine the moderating effects between variables. BD offspring showed higher levels of overall anxiety than did the HC group. BD offspring with the val/val genotype showed higher levels of anxiety than BD offspring with other genotypes. No significant levels of anxiety or its association with BDNF genotype were found in the HC group. BD offspring group showed significantly more family dysfunction when compared with the HC group and the family dysfunction moderated the association between the BDNF genotype and anxiety symptoms. This study demonstrated the potential interplay of three factors: BD offspring, anxiety symptoms and family dysfunction.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2014.11.013
View details for PubMedID 25498133