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Effect of BDNF Val66Met and serotonin transporter 5-HTTLPR polymorphisms on psychopathological characteristics in a sample of university students

Kourmouli, Nikia; Samakouri, Mariab; Mamatsiou, Athinaa; Trypsianis, Gregoryc; Livaditis, Miltosb; Veletza, Stavroulaa

doi: 10.1097/YPG.0b013e3283643629
Original Articles

Objective The aims of this study were to evaluate the impact of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met polymorphism on several psychological characteristics in a group of Greek University students and to explore putative interactions with the serotonin-transporter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) and serious past adverse experiences.

Methods A total of 224 students were genotyped and classified as (a) carriers or noncarriers of the Met allele of the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism and (b) carriers or noncarriers of the S or Lg alleles (S′) of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism. Students were evaluated using a battery of standard psychological tests and answered questionnaires on serious past adverse experiences.

Results The Val/Val BDNF genotype was associated with higher scores in several psychopathological dimensions. When the effect of the BDNF Met allele was examined in relation to 5-HTTLPR, it was restricted to S′ noncarriers. Among these students, BDNF Met allele carriers had lower scores compared with noncarriers. The effects of the Met allele on the S′ allele noncarriers in the anxiety and phobic anxiety dimensions were more pronounced among individuals who had reported no serious life adversities.

Conclusion There may be a protective role of the BDNF Met allele in several psychopathological features and it is suggested that some of these effects are moderated by 5-HTTLPR.

Departments of aBiology

bPsychiatry

cStatistics, School of Medicine, Democritus University of Thrace, Alexandroupolis, Greece

Correspondence to Stavroula Veletza, PhD, Department of Biology, School of Medicine, Democritus University of Thrace, 68100 Alexandroupolis, Greece Tel/fax: +30 25510 30506; e-mail: sveletza@med.duth.gr

Received December 24, 2011

Accepted December 16, 2012

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins