dr. M. (Marco) Boks

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 (220)

Bipolar episodes after reproductive events in women with bipolar I disorder, A study of 919 pregnancies

Gilden Janneke, Poels Eline M.P., Lambrichts Simon, Vreeker Annabel, Boks Marco P.M., Ophoff Roel A., Kahn René S., Kamperman Astrid M., Bergink Veerle 1 dec 2021, In: Journal of Affective Disorders. 295 , p. 72-79 8 p.

Shape and volume changes of the superior lateral ventricle after electroconvulsive therapy measured with ultra-high field MRI

Nuninga Jasper, Mandl René C W, Siero Jeroen, Nieuwdorp Wendy, Heringa Sophie M, Boks Marco P, Somers Metten, Sommer Iris E C 3 sep 2021, In: Psychiatry Research - Neuroimaging. 317 , p. 111384

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.

DNA methylation differences in cortical grey and white matter in schizophrenia

Berdenis Van Berlekom Amber, Notman Nina, Sneeboer Marjolein A.M., Snijders Gijsje J.L.J., Houtepen Lotte C., Nispeling Danny M., He Yujie, Dracheva Stella, Hol Elly M., Kahn René S., De Witte Lot D., Boks Marco P. 29 jul 2021, In: Epigenomics. 13 , p. 1157-1169 13 p.

Genome-wide association study of more than 40,000 bipolar disorder cases provides new insights into the underlying biology

Mullins Niamh, Forstner Andreas J, O'Connell Kevin S, Coombes Brandon, Coleman Jonathan R I, Qiao Zhen, Als Thomas D, Bigdeli Tim B, Børte Sigrid, Bryois Julien, Charney Alexander W, Drange Ole Kristian, Gandal Michael J, Hagenaars Saskia P, Ikeda Masashi, Kamitaki Nolan, Kim Minsoo, Krebs Kristi, Panagiotaropoulou Georgia, Schilder Brian M, Sloofman Laura G, Steinberg Stacy, Trubetskoy Vassily, Winsvold Bendik S, Won Hong-Hee, Abramova Liliya, Adorjan Kristina, Agerbo Esben, Al Eissa Mariam, Albani Diego, Alliey-Rodriguez Ney, Anjorin Adebayo, Antilla Verneri, Antoniou Anastasia, Awasthi Swapnil, Baek Ji Hyun, Bækvad-Hansen Marie, Bass Nicholas, Bauer Michael, Beins Eva C, Bergen Sarah E, Birner Armin, Bøcker Pedersen Carsten, Bøen Erlend, Boks Marco P, Bosch Rosa, Brum Murielle, Brumpton Ben M, Kahn René S, Ophoff Roel A, 17 mei 2021, In: Nature Genetics. 53 , p. 817-829 13 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

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