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Depress Anxiety. 2009;26(11):993-7. doi: 10.1002/da.20627.

Serotonin polymorphisms and posttraumatic stress disorder in a trauma exposed African American population.

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  • 1Howard University College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Washington, District of Columbia 20060, USA.



Genetic polymorphisms that influence serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5HT) neurotransmission are candidates for contributing to susceptibility to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The objective of our study was to determine if a variable length polymorphism for the promoter regions of the 5HT transporter (5HTTLPR), and/or a substitution polymorphism in the promoter region for the 5HT2A receptor, would be associated with PTSD in a trauma exposed population of adult African-Americans.


Using a case control design, 118 participants recruited from the primary care clinics and the campus of a historically black university who met inclusion criteria including trauma exposure provided blood samples for genomic DNA. PTSD criteria were determined by the Clinician Assessment of PTSD Scale (CAPS) and criteria for other psychiatric disorders by the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID). 5HTTLPR and 5HT2A-1438A/G were genotyped using established methods. Associations of genotypes with lifetime PTSD, and models testing associations of allele "dose", were analyzed.


Fifty-five (47%) participants met lifetime criteria for PTSD and 26 (22%) met criteria for (mostly comorbid) major depression. The 5HT2A (lower expressing) G allele was significantly associated with PTSD. We did not find significant associations with 5HTTLPR.


Our findings suggest a relationship between genetic variation in the 5HT2A promoter region and PTSD.

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