Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Meta-analysis of gene–environment interactions in developmental psychopathology

  • Alan Taylor (a1) and Julia Kim-Cohen (a2)

As studies of measured gene–environment interactions (G × E) in developmental psychopathology gain momentum, methods for systematically and quantitatively summarizing effects across multiple studies are urgently needed. Meta-analyses of G × E findings are critical for evaluating the overall statistical and theoretical significance of any given G × E based on cumulative and systematically combined knowledge. Although meta-analytic methods for the combination of study findings based on single effect measures such as odds ratios and mean differences are well established, equivalent methods for the meta-analysis of studies investigating interactions are not well developed. This article describes one simple approach to the meta-analysis of G × E effects using, as a contemporaneous example, the interaction of the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene and the impact of childhood maltreatment on risk for developing antisocial behavior.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Alan Taylor, Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Box Number PO80, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK; E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

H. Aguinis , & E. F. Stone-Romero (1997). Methodological artifacts in moderated multiple regression and their effect on statistical power. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82, 192206.

A. Caspi , J. McClay , T. E. Moffitt , J. Mill , J. Martin , I. W. Craig , (2002). Role of genotype in the cycle of violence in maltreated children. Science, 297, 851854.

A. Caspi , & T. E. Moffitt (2006). Gene–environment interactions in psychiatry: Joining forces with neuroscience. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 7, 583590.

S. Chinn (2000). A simple method for converting an odds ratio to effect size for use in meta-analysis. Statistics in Medicine, 19, 31273131.

D. Cicchetti , & J. A. Blender (2006). A multiple-levels-of-analysis perspective on resilience: Implications for the developing brain, neural plasticity, and preventive interventions. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1094, 248258.

M. Egger , G. D. Smith , & D. G. Altman (2001). Systematic reviews in health care: Meta-analysis in context (2nd ed.). London: BMJ Publishing Group.

M. Egger , G. D. Smith , M. Schneider , & C. Minder (1997). Bias in meta-analysis detected by a simple, graphical test. British Medical Journal, 315, 629634.

M. Egger , G. D. Smith , & A. N. Phillips (1997). Meta-analysis: Principles and procedures. British Medical Journal, 315, 15331537.

A. P. Field (2005). Is the meta-analysis of correlation coefficients accurate when population correlations vary? Psychological Methods, 10, 444467.

D. Foley , & B. Riley (2007). Promoting measured genes and measured environments: On the importance of careful statistical analyses and biological relevance. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64, 378.

G. Frazzetto , G. Di Lorenzo , V. Carola , L. Proietti , E. Sokolowska , A. Siracusano , (2007). Early trauma and increased risk for physical aggression during adulthood: The moderating role of MAOA genotype. PLoS ONE, 2, e486. Retrieved from http://www.journal.pone.0000486

S. W. Guo (2000). Gene–environment interaction and the mapping of complex traits: Some statistical models and their implications. Human Heredity, 50, 286303.

J. P. T. Higgins , & S. G. Thompson (2002). Quantifying heterogeneity in a meta-analysis. Statistics in Medicine, 21, 15391558.

J. P. T. Higgins , S. G. Thompson , J. J. Deeks , & D. G. Altman (2003). Measuring inconsistency in meta-analyses. British Medical Journal, 327, 557560.

D. Huizinga , B. C. Haberstick , A. Smolen , S. Menard , S. E. Young , R. P. Corley , (2006). Childhood maltreatment, subsequent antisocial behavior, and the role of monoamine oxidase A genotype. Biological Psychiatry, 60, 677683.

D. J. Hunter (2005). Gene–environment interactions in human diseases. Nature Reviews Genetics, 6, 287298.

J. E. Hunter , & F. L. Schmidt (2004). Methods of meta-analysis: Correcting error and bias in research findings (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

J. P. Ioannidis (2005). Contradicted and initially stronger effects in highly cited clinical research. Journal of the American Medical Association, 294, 218228.

J. P. Ioannidis , E. E. Ntzani , T. A. Trikalinos , & D. G. Contopoulos-Ioannidis (2001). Replication validity of genetic association studies. Nature Genetics, 29, 306309.

J. B. Kaplow , & C. S. Widom (2007). Age of onset of maltreatment predicts long-term mental health outcomes. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 116, 176187.

H. C. Kraemer , E. Frank , & D. J. Kupfer (2006). Moderators of treatment outcomes: Clinical, research, and policy importance. Journal of the American Medical Association, 296, 12861289.

T. E. Moffitt , A. Caspi , & M. Rutter (2005). Strategy for investigating interactions between measured genes and measured environments. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 473481.

D. Moher , D. J. Cook , S. Eastwood , I. Olkin , D. Rennie , & D. F. Stroup (1999). Improving the quality of reports of meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials: The QUOROM statement. Lancet, 354, 18961900.

K. W. Nilsson , R. L. Sjoberg , M. Damberg , J. Leppert , J. Ohrvik , P. O. Alm , (2006). Role of monoamine oxidase A genotype and psychosocial factors in male adolescent criminal activity. Biological Psychiatry, 59, 121127.

M. Rutter (2007). Gene–environment interdependence. Developmental Science, 10, 1218.

M. Rutter , T. E. Moffitt , & A. Caspi (2006). Gene–environment interplay and psychopathology: Multiple varieties but real effects. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 47, 226261.

D. F. Stroup , J. A. Berlin , S. C. Morton , I. Olkin , G. D. Williamson , D. Rennie , (2000). Meta-analysis of observational studies in epidemiology: A proposal for reporting. Journal of the American Medical Association, 283, 20082012.

A. Thapar , G. Harold , P. Holmans , F. Rice , K. Langley , T. Fowler , (2007). Promoting measured genes and measured environments: On the importance of careful statistical analyses and biological relevance. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64, 378379.

S. G. Thompson , & J. P. T. Higgins (2002). How should meta-regression analyses be undertaken and interpreted? Statistics in Medicine, 21, 15591573..

T. A. Trikalinos , E. E. Ntzani , D. G. Contopoulos-Ioannidis , & J. P. Ioannidis (2004). Establishment of genetic associations for complex diseases is independent of early study findings. European Journal of Human Genetics, 12, 762769.

E. von, Elm , & M. Egger (2004). The scandal of poor epidemiological research. British Medical Journal, 329, 868869.

C. S. Widom , & L. M. Brzustowicz (2006). MAOA and the “cycle of violence:” Childhood abuse and neglect, MAOA genotype, and risk for violent and antisocial behavior. Biological Psychiatry, 60, 684689.

S. E. Young , A. Smolen , J. K. Hewitt , B. C. Haberstick , M. C. Stallings , R. P. Corley , (2006). Interaction between MAO-A genotype and maltreatment in the risk for conduct disorder: Failure to confirm in adolescent patients. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163, 10191025.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
  • URL: /core/journals/development-and-psychopathology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 9
Total number of PDF views: 73 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 202 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 29th March 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.