Genetic variation in the serotonin transporter promoter region affects serotonin uptake in human blood platelets


  • This article is a US Government work and, as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.


The human serotonin transporter (5-HTT), encoded by a single gene on chromosome 17q11.2, is expressed in brain and blood cells. 5-HTT is implicated in mood and anxiety regulation, and is where antidepressant and antianxiety drugs initially act in the brain. A 5-HTT-linked promoter region (5-HTTLPR) insertion/deletion polymorphism with long (l) and short (s) forms affects transporter expression and function. The s variant reduced 5-HTT gene transcription in a reporter gene construct and human lymphoblasts, resulting in reduced transporter levels and 5-HT uptake, acting as a dominant allele. In this study, we investigated the expression and function of 5-HTT in platelets from healthy male volunteers. The l variant was associated with more rapid initial platelet 5-HT uptake (Vmax), the index of platelet 5-HTT function most clearly heritable, while the s allele was dominant. The 5-HTTLPR genotype had no effect on platelet [3H]paroxetine binding (Bmax), affinity for [3H]5-HT or [3H]paroxetine, or 5-HT content. The 5-HT uptake findings support a functional difference in the two 5-HTTLPR variants, reinforcing their attractiveness as candidate genes in neuropsychiatric research. Am. J. Med. Genet. (Neuropsychiatr. Genet.) 88:83–87, 1999. Published 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.