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Front Psychiatry. 2010 Nov 1;1:145. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2010.00145. eCollection 2010.

Association between Genotype of the Serotonin Transporter-Linked Polymorphic Region of the Serotonin Transporter Gene and Age of Onset of Methamphetamine Use: a Preliminary Analysis.

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Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA, USA.


Early-onset methamphetamine use increases the lifetime prevalence of methamphetamine dependence. An earlier onset of methamphetamine use leads to greater damage to the terminal ends of serotonin neurons, more reduction in serotonin transporter (5-HTT) density, and an increased propensity toward further methamphetamine use. Because the 5-HTT-linked polymorphic region (5'-HTTLPR) within the promoter region of the 5-HTT gene leads to differential expression of the 5-HTT, we examined, for the first time, whether there is a differential association between the long (L) and short (S) alleles of the 5'-HTTLPR and the age of first methamphetamine use (AMU). The study included 120 methamphetamine-dependent adults of European descent. Diagnosis of methamphetamine dependence and AMU were collected using structured questionnaires, and the 5'-HTTLPR genotypes were determined using the polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism method. Statistical analysis with the general linear model detected a significant interactive effect of 5'-HTTLPR genotypes (SS vs. L-carriers) and gender, associated with AMU (F = 3.99; p = 0.048). Further analysis of 5'-HTTLPR effects on AMU in males and females separately showed that the SS genotype compared with L-carriers had about two times greater risk of an earlier onset of methamphetamine use in men (hazard ratio = 1.839; 95% confidence interval = 1.042-3.246; p = 0.036) but not in women. Together, our findings in this preliminary study suggest a greater risk for earlier onset methamphetamine use associated with the SS genotype of the 5'-HTTLPR among methamphetamine-dependent Caucasian males.


age of onset; genotype; methamphetamine; serotonin transporter; serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region

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