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Am J Hum Genet. 2005 Jan;76(1):33-41. Epub 2004 Nov 3.

Sex-specific genetic architecture of whole blood serotonin levels.

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Department of Human Genetics, The University of Chicago, 920 East 58th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Recently, a quantitative-trait locus (QTL) for whole blood serotonin level was identified in a genomewide linkage and association study in a founder population. Because serotonin level is a sexually dimorphic trait, in the present study, we evaluated the sex-specific genetic architecture of whole blood serotonin level in the same population. Here, we use an extended homozygosity-by-descent linkage method that is suitable for large complex pedigrees. Although both males and females have high broad heritability (H2=0.99), females have a higher additive component (h2=0.63 in females; h2=0.27 in males). Furthermore, the serotonin QTL on 17q that was identified previously in this population, integrin beta 3 (ITGB3), and a novel locus on 2q influence serotonin levels only in males, whereas linkage to a region on chromosome 6q is specific to females. Both sexes contribute to linkage signals on 12q and 16p. There were, overall, more associations meeting criteria for suggestive significance in males than in females, including those of ITGB3 and the serotonin transporter gene (5HTT). This analysis is consistent with heritable sexual dimorphism in whole blood serotonin levels resulting from the effects of a combination of sex-specific and sex-independent loci.

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