Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 365–379 | Cite as

Associations Between Dopamine D2 Receptor (DRD2) Gene, Maternal Positive Parenting and Trajectories of Depressive Symptoms from Early to Mid-Adolescence

  • Cong Cao
  • Jolien Rijlaarsdam
  • Anja van der Voort
  • Linqin Ji
  • Wenxin Zhang
  • Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg


Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Chinese Children and Adolescents (LSCCA), this study is the first to examine the roles of the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) gene polymorphisms (i.e., TaqIA and A241G) and maternal positive parenting at ages 10 and 11 years in the trajectories of depressive symptoms from early to mid-adolescence (ages 11 to 16 years). In a sample of 1090 Chinese adolescents (50% girls), three trajectories of depressive symptoms were identified: (i) low-stable (36.1%), (ii) moderate-increasing (44.5%), and (iii) high-increasing (19.4%). A241G AA homozygotes and youth exposed to lower levels of maternal positive parenting were both at increased odds to follow the high-increasing vs. low-stable trajectory. Moreover, the A241G polymorphism interacted with maternal positive parenting to distinguish the moderate-increasing trajectory from the high-increasing and the low-stable trajectories. For A241G G-allele carriers, but not AA homozygotes, exposure to high quality of maternal parenting decreased the odds to follow the high-increasing vs. moderate-increasing trajectory of depressive symptoms. For AA homozygotes, but not G-allele carriers, high quality of maternal parenting increased the odds to follow the low-stable vs. moderate-increasing trajectory. The DRD2 TaqIA polymorphism had neither a direct nor an interactive effect with maternal positive parenting on trajectory membership. The current findings highlight the importance of investigating gene-by-environment interactions (G × E) in trajectories of depressive symptoms over adolescence, and support a developmental versus static nature of G × E effects.


DRD2 gene Depressive symptoms Developmental trajectories G × E interactions Maternal parenting 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31271105 and 31671156) and the Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education (20133704110001) to W. Z. M.J.B.K was supported by the European research Council (ERC AdG), the Gravitation program of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO grant number 024.001.003). We thank the parents and adolescents who generously donated their time to our study, as well as the students who assisted in the data collection. We thank Marinus H. Van IJzendoorn, Leiden University, for his contributions to the data-analysis and his comments to earlier drafts of the paper.

Authors’ Contributions

W.Z., M.J.B.K., C.C., and L. J. conceived the study and its design; C.C., and L. J. participated in the data collection; C.C., J.R., A.v.d.V., and M.J.B.K. participated in the statistical analysis and the interpretation of the data; C.C., J.R., A.v.d.V., and M.J.B.K. drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10802_2017_294_MOESM1_ESM.docx (39 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 38.9 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cong Cao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jolien Rijlaarsdam
    • 2
  • Anja van der Voort
    • 2
  • Linqin Ji
    • 1
  • Wenxin Zhang
    • 1
  • Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyShandong Normal UniversityJinanChina
  2. 2.Centre for Child and Family StudiesLeiden University2300RB Leidenthe Netherlands

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