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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2004 Aug;174(4):512-24. Epub 2004 Jul 13.

Implications of genetic research on the role of the serotonin in depression: emphasis on the serotonin type 1A receptor and the serotonin transporter.

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  • 1Clinical Neuroscience Division, Department of Psychiatry, VA National Center for PTSD (116-A), Yale University School of Medicine, 950 Campbell Avenue, West Haven, CT 06516, USA. Alexander.Neumeister@yale.edu


Serotonin systems appear to play a key role in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder. Consequently, ongoing research determines whether serotonin related genes account for the very robust differential behavioral and neural mechanisms that discriminate patients with depression from healthy controls. Serotonin type 1(A) receptors and the serotonin transporters are reduced in depression, and recent genetic research in animals and humans has implicated both in depression. Preclinical studies have utilized a variety of animal models that have been used to explain pathophysiological mechanisms in humans, although it is not clear at all whether these models constitute relevant models for depression in humans. However, data from preclinical studies can generate hypotheses that are tested in humans by combining genetic data with behavioral and physiological challenge paradigms and neuroimaging. These studies will enhance our understanding about combined influences from multiple interacting genes, as well as from environmental factors on brain circuits and their function, and about how these mechanisms may contribute to the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders.

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