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Pharmacopsychiatry. 2005 Jul;38(4):158-60.

Serotonergic effects of smoking are independent from the human serotonin transporter gene promoter polymorphism: evidence from auditory cortical stimulus processing.

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Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité University Medicine, Campus Mitte, Berlin, Germany.



Cigarette smoking has been associated with mood enhancing properties and modulating effects on serotonin activity. The loudness dependence (LD) of the auditory-evoked N1/P2-component has been related to serotonergic neurotransmission, i. e. the allelic variants in the promoter of the 5-hydroxytryptamine-transporter (5-HTT) gene (SCL6A4). Moreover, smoking behavior has been associated to the 5-HTT-genotype. It was hypothesized that cigarette smoking modulates the LD and this effect was expected to interact with the 5-HTT-genotype.


5-HTT-genotype and LD were determined in 63 healthy smokers and 114 nonsmokers.


LD was significantly affected by smoking status (p = 0.008) and 5-HTT-genotype (p = 0.045) but not by smoking*genotype-interaction or daily cigarette consumption. Current smokers exhibited a significantly weaker LD compared to nonsmokers. 5-HTT-genotype showed no significant effect on smoking behavior.


The results indicate a higher serotonergic activity in smokers as compared to nonsmokers independent of 5-HTT-genotype. Since former smokers and never smokers showed similar LDs, the serotonin enhancing effect of smoking seems to be a characteristic state, which may contribute to the maintenance of smoking behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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