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Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(2):213-6.

Association between a serotonin transporter promoter region polymorphism and mood response during tryptophan depletion.

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Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson, AR 85724, USA.


This study investigated the relationship between depressive symptom response during tryptophan (TRP) depletion and a functional polymorphism of the promoter region of the serotonin (5-HT) transporter gene (SLC6A4).(1) Forty-three subjects in remission from a major depressive episode who underwent TRP depletion were genotyped. DNA was extracted from blood lymphocytes or from cheek cells.(2) The two common alleles are designated long (l) and short (s). Depressive symptoms were measured with the 25-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS).(3) There was a significant association between the l homozygous genotype and the depressive response to TRP depletion, with a significant main effect of time (F = 8.763, df = 3, 38, P = <0.001), and time x l homozygous allele interaction (F = 3.676, df = 3, 38, P = 0.02). Individuals whose genotype predicted increased 5-HT transporter activity may be more susceptible to depressive changes in response to transient 5-HT perturbations. The use of endophenotypic markers for affective disorders such as the mood response to TRP depletion may facilitate studies of complex genetic traits such as depression by decreasing its heterogeneity.

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