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 (233)

Biomarkers in PTSD-susceptible and resistant veterans with war experience of more than ten years ago:FOCUS ON cortisol, thyroid hormones, testosterone and GABA

Feklicheva Inna, Boks Marco P., de Kloet E. Ron, Chipeeva Nadezda, Maslennikova Ekaterina, Pashkov Anton, Korobova Svetlana, Komelkova Mariia, Kuznetsova Yulia, Platkovski Pavel, Mamonova Marina, Sidorenko Olga, Vasilenko Tatyana, Tseilikman Olga, Tseilikman Vadim Apr 2022, In: Journal of Psychiatric Research. 148 , p. 258-263 6 p.

Untargeted metabolic analysis in dried blood spots reveals metabolic signature in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome

Korteling Dorinde, Boks Marco P, Fiksinski Ania M, van Hoek Ilja N, Vorstman Jacob A S, Verhoeven-Duif Nanda M, Jans Judith J M, Zinkstok Janneke R 9 Mar 2022, In: Translational Psychiatry. 12 , p. 1-7

Oxytocin system gene methylation is associated with empathic responses towards children

Spencer Hannah, Parianen Lesemann Franca H., Kraaijenvanger Eline J., Overbeek Geertjan, Montoya Estrella R., Branje Susan, Boks Marco P.M., Bos Peter A. Mar 2022, In: Psychoneuroendocrinology. 137 , p. 1-10

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.

Interrogating Associations Between Polygenic Liabilities and Electroconvulsive Therapy Effectiveness

Luykx Jurjen J, Loef Dore, Lin Bochao, van Diermen Linda, Nuninga Jasper O, van Exel Eric, Oudega Mardien L, Rhebergen Didi, Schouws Sigfried N T M, van Eijndhoven Philip, Verwijk Esmée, Schrijvers Didier, Birkenhager Tom K, Ryan Karen M, Arts Baer, van Bronswijk Suzanne C, Kenis Gunter, Schurgers Geert, Baune Bernhard T, Arns Martijn, van Dellen Edwin E, Somers Metten, Sommer Iris E C, Boks Marco P, Gülöksüz Sinan, McLoughlin Declan M, Dols Annemiek, Rutten Bart P F 24 Oct 2021, In: Biological Psychiatry. 91 , p. 531-539 9 p.


Zinkstok Janneke, Korteling Dorinde, Fiksinski Ania, Jans Judith, Verhoeven Nanda, Boks Marco Oct 2021, In: European Neuropsychopharmacology. 51 , p. E130-E130

Dissecting the Shared Genetic Architecture of Suicide Attempt, Psychiatric Disorders, and Known Risk Factors

Mullins Niamh, Kang JooEun, Campos Adrian I, Coleman Jonathan R I, Edwards Alexis C, Galfalvy Hanga, Levey Daniel F, Lori Adriana, Shabalin Andrey, Starnawska Anna, Su Mei-Hsin, Watson Hunna J, Adams Mark, Awasthi Swapnil, Gandal Michael, Hafferty Jonathan D, Hishimoto Akitoyo, Kim Minsoo, Okazaki Satoshi, Otsuka Ikuo, Ripke Stephan, Ware Erin B, Bergen Andrew W, Berrettini Wade H, Bohus Martin, Brandt Harry, Chang Xiao, Chen Wei J, Chen Hsi-Chung, Crawford Steven, Crow Scott, DiBlasi Emily, Duriez Philibert, Fernández-Aranda Fernando, Fichter Manfred M, Gallinger Steven, Glatt Stephen J, Gorwood Philip, Guo Yiran, Hakonarson Hakon, Halmi Katherine A, Hwu Hai-Gwo, Jain Sonia, Jamain Stéphane, Jiménez-Murcia Susana, Johnson Craig, Boks Marco P, Cahn Wiepke, Kahn René S, Ophoff Roel A, 9 Sep 2021, In: Biological Psychiatry. 91 , p. 313-327 15 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. 1-7

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.

All research output

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