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 (208)

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

The Genetics of the Mood Disorder Spectrum:Genome-wide Association Analyses of More Than 185,000 Cases and 439,000 Controls

Coleman Jonathan R.I., Gaspar Héléna A., Bryois Julien, Byrne Enda M., Forstner Andreas J., Holmans Peter A., de Leeuw Christiaan A., Mattheisen Manuel, McQuillin Andrew, Whitehead Pavlides Jennifer M., Pers Tune H., Ripke Stephan, Stahl Eli A., Steinberg Stacy, Trubetskoy Vassily, Trzaskowski Maciej, Wang Yunpeng, Abbott Liam, Abdellaoui Abdel, Adams Mark J., Adolfsson Annelie Nordin, Agerbo Esben, Akil Huda, Albani Diego, Alliey-Rodriguez Ney, Als Thomas D., Andlauer Till F.M., Anjorin Adebayo, Antilla Verneri, Van der Auwera Sandra, Awasthi Swapnil, Bacanu Silviu Alin, Badner Judith A., Bækvad-Hansen Marie, Barchas Jack D., Bass Nicholas, Bauer Michael, Beekman Aartjan T.F., Belliveau Richard, Bergen Sarah E., Bigdeli Tim B., Binder Elisabeth B., Bøen Erlend, Boks Marco, Boocock James, Budde Monika, Bunney William, Burmeister Margit, Kahn René S., Ophoff Roel A., , 15 jul 2020, In: Biological Psychiatry. 88 , p. 169-184 16 p.

Vasogenic edema versus neuroplasticity as neural correlates of hippocampal volume increase following electroconvulsive therapy

Nuninga Jasper O., Mandl René C.W., Froeling Martijn, Siero Jeroen C.W., Somers Metten, Boks Marco P., Nieuwdorp Wendy, Heringa Sophie, Sommer Iris E.C. 1 jul 2020, In: Brain Stimulation. 13 , p. 1080-1086 7 p.

Lithium Use during Pregnancy and the Risk of Miscarriage

Poels Eline M P, Kamperman Astrid M, Vreeker Annabel, Gilden Janneke, Boks Marco P, Kahn René S, Ophoff Roel A, Bergink Veerle 11 jun 2020, In: Journal of Clinical medicine. 9 , p. 1-5

The Role of Stress and Mineralocorticoid Receptor Haplotypes in the Development of Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety During Adolescence

Endedijk Hinke M., Nelemans Stefanie A., Schür Remmelt R., Boks Marco P.M., Lier Pol van, Meeus Wim, Branje Susan, Vinkers Christiaan H. 15 mei 2020, In: Frontiers in Psychiatry. 11 , p. 367 10 p.

Cannabinoids and psychotic symptoms:A potential role for a genetic variant in the P2X purinoceptor 7 (P2RX7) gene

Boks Marco P, He Yujie, Schubart Chris D, van Gastel Willemijn, Elkrief Laurent, Huguet Guillaume, van Eijk Kristel, Vinkers Christiaan H, Kahn René S, Paus Tomás, Conrod Patricia, Hol Elly M, de Witte Lot D 21 apr 2020, In: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 88 , p. 573-581 9 p.

All research output

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