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Cogn Emot. 2014;28(7):1149-63. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2013.873018. Epub 2014 Jan 17.

The 5-HTTLPR polymorphism, early and recent life stress, and cognitive endophenotypes of depression.

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a Institute of Psychology , Leiden University , Leiden , The Netherlands.


Studies associating interactions of 5-HTTLPR and life adversities with depression have yielded equivocal results. Studying endophenotypes may constitute a more powerful approach. In the current study, it was assessed whether interactions of 5-HTTLPR with childhood emotional abuse (CEA) and recent negative life events (RNLE) affect possible cognitive endophenotypes of depression, namely, attention-allocation bias and the ability to recognise others' mind states in 215 young adults of North-West European descent. The ability to classify others' negative mind states was found to be increased with increasing RNLE in carriers of low-expressing Serotonin Transporter Linked Polymorphic Region (5-HTTLPR) alleles. Carriers of two low-expressing alleles also preferentially oriented attention towards negative information. Gene-environment interactions were not observed for attention allocation bias. No effects involving CEA were observed. These results suggest that low-expressing 5-HTTLPR alleles may confer increased risk for depression through enhanced recognition of negative facial expressions following RNLE.


5-HTTLPR; Cognitive bias; Depression; Endophenotype; Gene-environment interaction

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