Oxytocin receptor gene polymorphism modulates the effects of social support on heart rate variability.


Journal Article

A large body of empirical research has demonstrated stress-buffering effects of social support. However, recent studies suggest that genetic variation of the oxytocin system (specifically, a common single nucleotide polymorphism, rs53576, of the oxytocin receptor gene) modulates the efficacy of social support. The timing and neurobiological basis of this genetic modulation were investigated using a standardized, laboratory-based psychological stress procedure (Trier Social Stress Test for Groups, TSST-G). To index potential stress buffering effects of social support mediated by the oxytocin system, heart rate variability (HRV) was obtained before and during the TSST-G from 40 healthy participants. Results indicate that social support is associated with higher HRV only in G allele carriers. Specifically, social support increased heart rate variability during direct social interaction and only in individuals with at least one copy of the G allele of rs53576. These findings support the idea that the stress-attenuating effects of social support are modulated by genetic variation of the oxytocin system.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kanthak, MK; Chen, FS; Kumsta, R; Hill, LK; Thayer, JF; Heinrichs, M

Published Date

  • May 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 117 /

Start / End Page

  • 43 - 49

PubMed ID

  • 26903384

Pubmed Central ID

  • 26903384

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-6246

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2016.02.007


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands