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Serotonin Transporter Protein Polymorphism and Harm Avoidance Personality in Migraine without Aura


  • Jeong Wook Park MD, PhD,

  • Si Ryung Han MD, PhD,

  • Dong Won Yang MD, PhD,

  • Yeong In Kim MD, PhD,

  • Kwang Soo Lee MD, PhD

  • From the Department of Neurology, Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, South Korea.

Address all correspondence to Dr. Kwang Soo Lee, Department of Neurology, Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.


Objective.—To investigate polymorphisms in the serotonin transporter protein gene and harm avoidance personality dimension in patients with migraine without aura (MWOA).

Background.—The serotonin transporter protein is a key modulator of serotonergic synaptic neurotransmission. Two polymorphic regions of the gene for serotonin transporter protein have been found, and are associated with variations in the functional activity of serotonin caused by differing transcriptional efficiency. The harm avoidance (HA) personality trait may also be heritable and associated with altered serotonergic neurotransmitter activity.

Design.—We amplified the polymorphism in the promoter of serotonin transporter protein (5-HTTLPR) and the variable number of tandem repeats polymorphism within intron 2 (VNTR) using the polymerase chain reaction and performed genotype polymorphism analyses in 97 patients with MWOA and 100 healthy controls. We investigated serotonin-related personality traits by evaluating the HA personality dimension using a tridimensional questionnaire.

Results.—The genotype frequencies and allele distributions of 5-HTTLPR did not differ between patients with MWOA and controls. The VNTR genotype STin2.12/STin2.12 was significantly more common in patients with MWOA (90%) than in controls (77%; P= .017). Patients with MWOA also had HA scores (21.9 ± 6.4) significantly higher than those of controls (16.3 ± 6.1; P < .001).

Conclusions.—Serotonergic activity might be involved in the development of MWOA and VNTR of serotonin transporter gene might be one of the genetically contributing factors.