Brain-derived neurotrophic factor as a model system for examining gene by environment interactions across development.
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
There has been a dramatic rise in gene x environment studies of human behavior over the past decade that have moved the field beyond simple nature versus nurture debates. These studies offer promise in accounting for more variability in behavioral and biological phenotypes than studies that focus on genetic or experiential factors alone. They also provide clues into mechanisms of modifying genetic risk or resilience in neurodevelopmental disorders. Yet, it is rare that these studies consider how these interactions change over the course of development. In this paper, we describe research that focuses on the impact of a polymorphism in a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene, known to be involved in learning and development. Specifically we present findings that assess the effects of genotypic and environmental loadings on neuroanatomic and behavioral phenotypes across development. The findings illustrate the use of a genetic mouse model that mimics the human polymorphism, to constrain the interpretation of gene-environment interactions across development in humans.