Two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on oxytocin-related genes, specifically the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) rs53576 and the CD38 rs3796863 variants, have been associated with alterations in prosocial behaviors. A cross-sectional study was conducted among undergraduate students (N = 476) to examine associations between the OXTR and CD38 polymorphisms and unsupportive social interactions and mood states. Results revealed no association between perceived levels of unsupportive social interactions and the OXTR polymorphism. However, A carriers of the CD38 polymorphism, a variant previously associated with elevated oxytocin, reported greater perceived peer unsupportive interactions compared to CC carriers. As expected, perceived unsupportive interactions from peers was associated with greater negative affect, which was moderated by the CD38 polymorphism. Specifically, this relation was stronger among CC carriers of the CD38 polymorphism (a variant thought to be linked to lower oxytocin). When examining whether the OXTR polymorphism moderated the relation between unsupportive social interactions from peers and negative affect there was a trend toward significance, however, this did not withstand multiple testing corrections. These findings are consistent with the perspective that a variant on an oxytocin polymorphism that may be tied to lower oxytocin is related to poor mood outcomes in association with negative social interactions. At the same time, having a genetic constitution presumed to be associated with higher oxytocin was related to increased perceptions of unsupportive social interactions. These seemingly paradoxical findings could be related to previous reports in which variants associated with prosocial behaviors were also tied to relatively more effective coping styles to deal with challenges.

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Keywords affective states, CD38, negative mood, oxytocin, Polymorphism, unsupportive social interactions
Persistent URL
Journal Stress
McInnis, O.A. (Opal A.), McQuaid, R.J. (Robyn J.), Matheson, K, & Anisman, H. (2017). Unsupportive social interactions and affective states: examining associations of two oxytocin-related polymorphisms. Stress, 20(1), 122–129. doi:10.1080/10253890.2017.1286326