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Association between the serotonin transporter triallelic genotype and eating problems is moderated by the experience of childhood trauma in women


  • Supported by R15MH077654-01A1 from NIMH and by P20 RR016479 from NCRR.



This study investigated a potential interaction between the triallelic polymorphism of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) promoter and the experience of childhood trauma on the number of problem eating behaviors.


The study sample was comprised of 439 (64.7% female) Caucasian college students (mean age = 22.49, SD = 6.12). Participants completed questionnaires that assessed eating problems and experience of trauma in childhood (ages 0–12) and donated cheek cells for 5-HTTLPR and rs25531 genotyping.


Women carrying a lower expressing allele (i.e., LG or S) who were exposed to higher levels of childhood trauma reported significantly higher mean numbers of eating problems (gender × genotype × trauma interaction, p = .006).


These results are consistent with findings that the lower expressing alleles of the SLC6A4 promoter are associated with increased sensitivity to the negative impact of childhood stressors on adult behavioral outcomes. © 2012 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2012)