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Brain Res. 2009 Aug 25;1286:84-93. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2009.06.079. Epub 2009 Jul 3.

The roles of sex and serotonin transporter levels in age- and stress-related emotionality in mice.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.

Abstract

Mood disorders are influenced by genetic make-up and differentially affect men and women. The s/l promoter polymorphism in the serotonin transporter (SERT) gene moderates both trait emotion and the vulnerability to develop depressive states in humans. Similarly, male mice lacking SERT (Knockout/KO) display an elevated emotionality phenotype. We now report that the SERT-KO phenotype is maintained throughout late-adulthood, and that female KO mice develop a larger emotionality phenotype with increasing age. Thus, to test the hypothesis that these findings reflected a putative sexual dimorphism in SERT-mediated modulation of emotionality, we submitted adult male and female wild-type, heterozygous (HZ) and KO mice to unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS) and assessed behavioral changes. In males, the elevated SERT-KO emotion-related behavior converged with other groups after UCMS. Conversely, female SERT-KO displayed a normal non-stressed baseline, but highest UCMS-induced emotionality. SERT-HZ displayed variable and intermediate phenotypes in both experiments. Thus, consistent results across different biological modalities (age, stress) revealed a high contribution of SERT genotype for baseline "trait" emotionality in males, and low contribution for females. In contrast, age-correlated and stress-induced behavioral changes resulted in a high SERT genotype-mediated behavioral variance in females, but low in males. This suggests that high emotionality states associated with low SERT were differentially achieved in males (high baseline/trait) compared to females (increased vulnerability to develop high emotionality). This sex-by-SERT double dissociation provides a framework to investigate molecular substrates of emotionality regulation in concert with serotonin function and may contribute to the sexually dimorphic features of mood disorders.

PMID:
19577546
PMCID:
PMC2723171
DOI:
10.1016/j.brainres.2009.06.079
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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