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Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(10):1058-63.

Serotonin transporter gene polymorphism, differential early rearing, and behavior in rhesus monkey neonates.

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Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH Animal Center, Poolesville, MD 20837, USA.


A polymorphism in the serotonin (5-HT) transporter gene regulatory region (5-HTTLPR) is associated with measures of 5-HT transporter (5-HTT) expression and 5-HT-mediated behaviors in humans. An analogous length variation of the 5-HTTLPR has been reported in rhesus monkeys (rh5-HTTLPR). A retrospective association study was conducted on 115 rhesus macaque infants either homozygous for the long 5HTTLPR variant (l/l) or heterozygous for the short and long form (l/s). To assess contributions of genotype and early rearing environment, 36 mother-reared monkeys (l/l = 26, l/s = 10) and 79 nursery-reared monkeys (l/l = 54, l/s = 25) were assessed on days 7, 14, 21, and 30 of life on a standardized primate neurobehavioral test designed to measure orienting, motor maturity, reflex functioning, and temperament. Both mother-reared and nursery-reared heterozygote animals demonstrated increased affective responding relative to l/l homozygotes. Nursery-reared, but not mother-reared, l/s infants exhibited lower orientation scores than their l/l counterparts. These results demonstrate the contributions of rearing environment and genetic background, and their interaction, in a nonhuman primate model of behavioral development.

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