Serotonergic genes modulate amygdala activity in major depression

Authors


*U. Dannlowski, Department of Psychiatry, University of Münster, Albert-Schweitzer-Str. 11, 48149 Münster, Germany. E-mail: dannlow@uni-muenster.de

Abstract

Serotonergic genes have been implicated in the pathogenesis of depression probably via their influence on neural activity during emotion processing. This study used an imaging genomics approach to investigate amygdala activity in major depression as a function of common functional polymorphisms in the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) and the serotonin receptor 1A gene (5-HT1A-1019C/G). In 27 medicated patients with major depression, amygdala responses to happy, sad and angry faces were assessed using functional magnetic resonance imaging at 3 Tesla. Patients were genotyped for the 5-HT1A-1019C/G and the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism, including the newly described 5-HTT-rs25531 single nucleotide polymorphism. Risk allele carriers for either gene showed significantly increased bilateral amygdala activation in response to emotional stimuli, implicating an additive effect of both genotypes. Our data suggest that the genetic susceptibility for major depression might be transported via dysfunctional neural activity in brain regions critical for emotion processing.

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