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Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Nov 15;60(10):1155-62. Epub 2006 Jul 28.

Human choline transporter gene variation is associated with corticolimbic reactivity and autonomic-cholinergic function.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Eastern Virginia Medical School, 825 Fairfax Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23501. Neumans@evms.edu

Erratum in

  • Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Feb 1;61(3):424.



Our previous work has shown genetic variation in the human choline transporter gene (CHT1) to be associated with depressive symptoms and autonomic cardiac (cholinergic) dysregulation. Here, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to examine the relation between a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in CHT1 on regional brain reactivity relevant to autonomic (cholinergic) function.


Thirty-two participants of European ancestry (18 men, 14 women; age: 33-54 years) completed an fMRI protocol using corticolimbic reactivity and prefrontal inhibitory control paradigms. Resting cholinergic function, as measured by heart rate variability (HRV), was quantified from electrocardiogram. Subjects were genotyped for a CHT1 G/T SNP.


GG homozygotes had greater right (R) dorsal amygdala (p < .008), bilateral anterior cingulate (p < .009), and R caudate reactivity (p < .015) than T-allele carriers. Heart rate variability was related to R frontal cortex (Brodmann Areas 6, 9, and 46), R hippocampal formation, bilateral caudate, and bilateral anterior cingulate reactivity (p's < .007).


CHT1 variation is related to differences in a distributed corticolimbic circuitry mediating behavioral and physiologic arousal. These relations may contribute to a biological mechanism by which genetic variation in cholinergic neurotransmission affects cognition, mood, and autonomic cardiac function.

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