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Interaction between the 5-HTTLPR genotype, impact of stressful life events, and trait neuroticism on depressive symptoms in healthy volunteers

Rob Markus, C.

doi: 10.1097/YPG.0b013e32835fe3e1
Original Articles

Introduction: Recent biopsychological research on stress-related psychopathology shows promising evidence for the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) transporter linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) genotype by life event interaction on depression. Yet, there appears to be variability in replicating such findings. From leading cognitive models of depression, it can be deduced that mainly high-impact events, particularly in stress-vulnerable, high trait neuroticism individuals who possess low coping abilities, can cause depression.

Objective: The current study therefore examines the interaction between the 5-HTTLPR genotype, impact of life events, and trait neuroticism on depression symptoms.

Participants and methods: A group of 771 healthy individuals, 595 women and 176 men aged 21.0±2.1 years, were genotyped for the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and were rated for depressive symptoms, impact of life events, and neuroticism.

Results: Only the low-allele expressing (S) 5-HTTLPR carriers showed vulnerability to depression exclusively when they also reported exposure to high-impact events and showed high neuroticism.

Conclusion: This suggests that cognitive vulnerabilities may mediate the 5-HTTLPR genotype by life event interaction on depression.

Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Correspondence to C. Rob Markus, PhD, Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands Tel: +31 43 3882474; fax: +31 43 3884196; e-mail: r.markus@maastrichtuniversity.nl

Received April 19, 2012

Accepted October 27, 2012

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.