5-HTTLPR genotype influences amygdala volume

  • Scherk H
  • Gruber O
  • Menzel P
 et al. 
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BACKGROUND: Functional imaging studies in healthy individuals revealed an association between 5-HTTLPR genotype and neuronal activity in the amygdala. The aim of this study was firstly to investigate a possible overall impact of the 5-HTTLPR on amygdala volume in patients with bipolar disorder and healthy individuals and secondly to test a diagnosis specific influence of the 5-HTTLPR on amygdala volume.

METHODS: We performed a region of interest analysis of amygdala volume in 37 patients with bipolar I disorder and 37 healthy control subjects. The 5-HTTLPR genotype of each proband was determined and the subjects were separated according to 5-HTTLPR genotype and for statistical analyses the groups SS and SL were combined and compared with the group LL.

RESULTS: This study shows that carriers of the short allele (SL or SS) of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism exhibit a relatively increased volume of the right amygdala compared to homozygous L-allele carriers irrespective of diagnosis status. However, further analyses with the factors genotype and diagnosis were not able to reproduce this result.

CONCLUSIONS: The present findings are consistent with the view that the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism might modulate neuronal size or number in the amygdala. It would be worthwhile investigating the relationship between serotonin transporter function and amygdala function and volume in further studies.

Author-supplied keywords

  • 5-HTTLPR
  • Amygdala
  • Bipolar disorder
  • MRI
  • SLC6A4
  • Serotonin

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  • Harald Scherk

  • Oliver Gruber

  • Patrick Menzel

  • Thomas Schneider-Axmann

  • Claudia Kemmer

  • Juliana Usher

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