dr. M. (Marco) Boks

Associate Professor - medical
dr. M. (Marco) Boks
  • Psychiatry

Research Programs




Genetic, epigenetic and epidemiological studies of Gene- Environment interplay

The main theme of my research is how our genetic background shapes the influence of the environmental risk for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. 

 The idea that psychiatric disorders develop as a result of the interaction between genes and environment is generally supported. However methodological challenges of such studies have limited large scale genome wide efforts. Therefore studies that focus on the interaction between environmental risk and genetic background remain timely and necessary.

 However such genetic studies do not take into account  a more subtle but highly relevant molecular mechanisms of interactions between environment and genes that recently is identified as a key mechanism of adaptation. These mechanisms, referred to as epigenetics, are extensive and complex and to date not fully understood. Central to our understanding is that epigenetic mechanisms influences transcription of DNA by modifying access to the DNA sequences. What makes this line of research extra interesting is the potential for pharmaceutical manipulation.

To focus these studies we have chosen cannabis and trauma as a main environmental exposure. In addition to genetic variation as a modifier of environmental risk we study gene expression and DNA methylation levels. DNA methylation is central in gene-environment interaction as epigenetic silencing of risk genes is partly under the influence of environmental exposures of the probands as well as the mother. This work is supported by a NARSAD young investigators award and a Neuroscience and Cognition Utrecht stipendium. We are currently conducting a study on the influence of maternal famine in China on schizophrenia risk  and investigate epigenetic modification of the stress response in relationship with post-traumatic stress- and bipolar disorder. 

Specialties: Psychiatry, epigenetics, genetics, bio-informatics

Research line


Most recent key publications

1: van Gastel WA, MacCabe JH, Schubart CD, Vreeker A, Tempelaar W, Kahn RS, Boks MP. Cigarette smoking is equally strongly associated with Psychotic-Like experiences as Cannabis Use: a cross-sectional study in young Adults. Psychological Medicine 2013 Feb 18
2: Boks MP. Progress in gene environment studies. Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Nov 15;72(10):799-800.
3: Boks MP, de Jong NM, Kas MJ, Vinkers CH, Fernandes C, Kahn RS, Mill J, Ophoff RA. Current status and future prospects for epigenetic psychopharmacology. Epigenetics. 2012 Jan 1;7(1).
4: Boks MP, Derks EM, Weisenberger DJ, Strengman E, Janson E, Sommer IE, Kahn RS, Ophoff RA. The relationship of DNA methylation with age, gender and genotype in twins and healthy controls. PLoS One. 2009 Aug 26;4(8):e6767.
5: Van Gastel WA, Tempelaar W, Bun C, Schubart CD, Kahn RS, Plevier C , Boks MPM. Cannabis Use as an Indicator of Risk for Mental Health Problems in Adolescents: a population-based study at secondary schools Psychological Medicine 2012 Dec 3:1-8

Fellowship and Awards

1:  NARSAD Young Investigator Award 2010
2: Semel Institute of Neuroscience, 2009 Phenomics Travel Award

Research Output (215)

A systematic review of biological, social and environmental factors associated with epigenetic clock acceleration

Oblak Lara, van der Zaag Jeroen, Higgins-Chen Albert T., Levine Morgan E., Boks Marco P. aug 2021, In: Ageing Research Reviews. 69 10 p.

Author Correction: Functional connectome differences in individuals with hallucinations across the psychosis continuum

Schutte Maya J L, Bohlken Marc M, Collin Guusje, Abramovic Lucija, Boks Marco P M, Cahn Wiepke, Dauwan Meenakshi, van Dellen Edwin, van Haren Neeltje E M, Hugdahl Kenneth, Koops Sanne, Mandl René C W, Sommer Iris E C 14 apr 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11 1 p.

Functional connectome differences in individuals with hallucinations across the psychosis continuum

Schutte Maya J L, Bohlken Marc M, Collin Guusje, Abramovic Lucija, Boks Marco P M, Cahn Wiepke, Dauwan Meenakshi, van Dellen Edwin, van Haren Neeltje E M, Hugdahl Kenneth, Koops Sanne, Mandl René C W, Sommer Iris E C 13 jan 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11 13 p.

Polygenic Risk for Major Depression Interacts with Parental Criticism in Predicting Adolescent Depressive Symptom Development

Nelemans Stefanie A., Boks Marco, Lin Bochao, Oldehinkel Tineke, van Lier Pol, Branje Susan, Meeus Wim jan 2021, In: Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 50 , p. 159-176 18 p.

Virtual Histology of Cortical Thickness and Shared Neurobiology in 6 Psychiatric Disorders

Patel Yash, Parker Nadine, Shin Jean, Howard Derek, French Leon, Thomopoulos Sophia I., Pozzi Elena, Abe Yoshinari, Abé Christoph, Anticevic Alan, Alda Martin, Aleman Andre, Alloza Clara, Alonso-Lana Silvia, Ameis Stephanie H., Anagnostou Evdokia, McIntosh Andrew A., Arango Celso, Arnold Paul D., Asherson Philip, Assogna Francesca, Auzias Guillaume, Ayesa-Arriola Rosa, Bakker Geor, Banaj Nerisa, Banaschewski Tobias, Bandeira Cibele E., Baranov Alexandr, Bargalló Núria, Bau Claiton H.D., Baumeister Sarah, Baune Bernhard T., Bellgrove Mark A., Benedetti Francesco, Bertolino Alessandro, Boedhoe Premika S.W., Boks Marco, Bollettini Irene, Del Mar Bonnin Caterina, Borgers Tiana, Borgwardt Stefan, Brandeis Daniel, Brennan Brian P., Bruggemann Jason M., Janssen Joost, Murphy Declan, Ophoff Roel A., Oranje Bob, Shook Devon, Van Haren Neeltje E.M. jan 2021, In: JAMA Psychiatry. 78 , p. 47-63 17 p.

Epigenome-wide meta-analysis of PTSD across 10 military and civilian cohorts identifies methylation changes in AHRR

Smith Alicia K., Ratanatharathorn Andrew, Maihofer Adam X., Naviaux Robert K., Aiello Allison E., Amstadter Ananda B., Ashley-Koch Allison E., Baker Dewleen G., Beckham Jean C., Boks Marco P., Bromet Evelyn, Dennis Michelle, Galea Sandro, Garrett Melanie E., Geuze Elbert, Guffanti Guia, Hauser Michael A., Katrinli Seyma, Kilaru Varun, Kessler Ronald C., Kimbrel Nathan A., Koenen Karestan C., Kuan Pei Fen, Li Kefeng, Logue Mark W., Lori Adriana, Luft Benjamin J., Miller Mark W., Naviaux Jane C., Nugent Nicole R., Qin Xuejun, Ressler Kerry J., Risbrough Victoria B., Rutten Bart P.F., Stein Murray B., Ursano Robert J., Vermetten Eric, Vinkers Christiaan H., Wang Lin, Youssef Nagy A., Marx Christine, Grant Gerry, Stein Murray, Qin Xue Jun, Jain Sonia, McAllister Thomas W., Zafonte Ross, Lang Ariel, Coimbra Raul, Schijven Dick, , , dec 2020, In: Nature Communications. 11

Methylation of oxytocin related genes and early life trauma together shape the N170 response to human faces

Parianen Lesemann Franca H., Spencer Hannah, Montoya Estrella R., Kraaijenvanger Eline J., He Yujie, Branje Susan, Boks Marco P., Bos Peter A. okt 2020, In: European Neuropsychopharmacology. 39 , p. 19-28 10 p.

Extensions of Multiple-Group Item Response Theory Alignment:Application to Psychiatric Phenotypes in an International Genomics Consortium

Mansolf Maxwell, Vreeker Annabel, Reise Steven P, Freimer Nelson B, Glahn David C, Gur Raquel E, Moore Tyler M, Pato Carlos N, Pato Michele T, Palotie Aarno, Holm Minna, Suvisaari Jaana, Partonen Timo, Kieseppä Tuula, Paunio Tiina, Boks Marco, Kahn René, Ophoff Roel A, Bearden Carrie E, Loohuis Loes Olde, Teshiba Terri, deGeorge Daniella, Bilder Robert M, okt 2020, In: Educational and Psychological Measurement. 80 , p. 870-909 40 p.

Functional brain networks in the schizophrenia spectrum and bipolar disorder with psychosis

van Dellen Edwin, Börner Corinna, Schutte Maya, van Montfort Simone, Abramovic Lucija, Boks Marco P., Cahn Wiepke, van Haren Neeltje, Mandl René, Stam Cornelis J., Sommer Iris 2 sep 2020, In: npj Schizophrenia. 6

Higher cortisol levels may proceed a manic episode and are related to disease severity in patients with bipolar disorder

van den Berg Monique T., Wester Vincent L., Vreeker Annabel, Koenders Manja A., Boks Marco P., van Rossum Elisabeth F.C., Spijker Anne T. sep 2020, In: Psychoneuroendocrinology. 119

All research output

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