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Concept: Serotonin transporter


The hypothesis that the S allele of the 5-HTTLPR serotonin transporter promoter region is associated with increased risk of depression, but only in individuals exposed to stressful situations, has generated much interest, research and controversy since first proposed in 2003. Multiple meta-analyses combining results from heterogeneous analyses have not settled the issue. To determine the magnitude of the interaction and the conditions under which it might be observed, we performed new analyses on 31 data sets containing 38 802 European ancestry subjects genotyped for 5-HTTLPR and assessed for depression and childhood maltreatment or other stressful life events, and meta-analysed the results. Analyses targeted two stressors (narrow, broad) and two depression outcomes (current, lifetime). All groups that published on this topic prior to the initiation of our study and met the assessment and sample size criteria were invited to participate. Additional groups, identified by consortium members or self-identified in response to our protocol (published prior to the start of analysis) with qualifying unpublished data, were also invited to participate. A uniform data analysis script implementing the protocol was executed by each of the consortium members. Our findings do not support the interaction hypothesis. We found no subgroups or variable definitions for which an interaction between stress and 5-HTTLPR genotype was statistically significant. In contrast, our findings for the main effects of life stressors (strong risk factor) and 5-HTTLPR genotype (no impact on risk) are strikingly consistent across our contributing studies, the original study reporting the interaction and subsequent meta-analyses. Our conclusion is that if an interaction exists in which the S allele of 5-HTTLPR increases risk of depression only in stressed individuals, then it is not broadly generalisable, but must be of modest effect size and only observable in limited situations.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 4 April 2017; doi:10.1038/mp.2017.44.

Concepts: Scientific method, Gene, Statistical significance, Effect size, Meta-analysis, Statistical power, Serotonin transporter, 5-HTTLPR


Polymorphisms in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) and exposure to early childhood adversities (CA) are independently associated with individual differences in cognitive and emotional processing. Whether these two factors interact to influence cognitive and emotional processing is not known.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Promoter, RNA polymerase, Childhood, Neuroticism, Serotonin transporter, 5-HTTLPR


Cognitive impairment (CI) and major depressive disorder (MDD) remain prevalent in treated HIV-1 disease; however, the pathogenesis remains elusive. A possible contributing mechanism is immune-mediated degradation of tryptophan (TRP) via the kynurenine (KYN) pathway, resulting in decreased production of serotonin and accumulation of TRP degradation products. We explored the association of these biochemical pathways and their relationship with CI and MDD in HIV-positive (HIV+) individuals.

Concepts: Serotonin, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Major depressive disorder, Dysthymia, Tryptophan, Sertraline, Fluoxetine, Serotonin transporter


Women are two times more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men. Sex hormones modulating serotonergic transmission are proposed to partly underlie these epidemiologic findings. Here, we used the cross-sex steroid hormone treatment of transsexuals seeking sex reassignment as a model to investigate acute and chronic effects of testosterone and estradiol on serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT) binding in female-to-male and male-to-female transsexuals.

Concepts: Hormone, Estrogen, Gender, Testosterone, Serotonin, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Transgender, Serotonin transporter


BACKGROUND: Childhood adverse experiences are known to induce persistent changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity to stress. However, the mechanisms by which these experiences shape the neuroendocrine response to stress remain unclear. Method We tested whether bullying victimization influenced serotonin transporter gene (SERT) DNA methylation using a discordant monozygotic (MZ) twin design. A subsample of 28 MZ twin pairs discordant for bullying victimization, with data on cortisol and DNA methylation, were identified in the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a nationally representative 1994-1995 cohort of families with twins. RESULTS: Bullied twins had higher SERT DNA methylation at the age of 10 years compared with their non-bullied MZ co-twins. This group difference cannot be attributed to the children’s genetic makeup or their shared familial environments because of the study design. Bullied twins also showed increasing methylation levels between the age of 5 years, prior to bullying victimization, and the age of 10 years whereas no such increase was detected in non-bullied twins across time. Moreover, children with higher SERT methylation levels had blunted cortisol responses to stress. CONCLUSIONS: Our study extends findings drawn from animal models, supports the hypothesis that early-life stress modifies DNA methylation at a specific cytosine-phosphate-guanine (CpG) site in the SERT promoter and HPA functioning and suggests that these two systems may be functionally associated.

Concepts: DNA, Cohort study, Gene, Twin, Twins, Zygote, Monozygotic, Serotonin transporter


Serotonin-1B (5-HT(1B) ) autoreceptors are located in serotonin (5-HT) terminals, along with serotonin transporters (SERT), and play a critical role in autoregulation of serotonergic neurotransmission and are implicated in disorders of serotonergic function, particularly emotional regulation. SERT modulates serotonergic neurotransmission by high-affinity reuptake of 5-HT. Alterations in SERT activity are associated with increased risk for depression and anxiety. Several neurotransmitter receptors are known to regulate SERT K(m) and V(max) , and previous work suggests that 5-HT(1B) autoreceptors may regulate 5-HT reuptake, in addition to modulating 5-HT release and synthesis. We used rotating disk electrode voltammetry to investigate 5-HT(1B) autoreceptor regulation of SERT-mediated 5-HT uptake into synaptosomes. The selective 5-HT(1B) antagonist SB224289 decreased SERT activity in synaptosomes prepared from wild-type but not 5-HT(1B) knockout mice, whereas SERT uptake was enhanced after pretreatment with the selective 5-HT(1B) agonist CP94253. Furthermore, SERT activity varies as a function of 5-HT(1B) receptor expression-specifically, genetic deletion of 5-HT(1B) decreased SERT function, while viral-mediated overexpression of 5-HT(1B) autoreceptors in rat raphe neurons increased SERT activity in rat hippocampal synaptosomes. Considered collectively, these results provide evidence that 5-HT(1B) autoreceptors regulate SERT activity. Because SERT clearance rate varies as a function of 5-HT(1B) autoreceptor expression levels and is modulated by both activation and inhibition of 5-HT(1B) autoreceptors, this dynamic interaction may be an important mechanism of serotonin autoregulation with therapeutic implications. Synapse, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Neuron, Signal transduction, Receptor, Neurotransmitter, Serotonin, Agonist, Serotonin transporter, Rotating ring-disk electrode


Serotonin is a neuromodulator mainly synthesized by intestinal enterochromaffin cells that regulate overall intestinal physiology. The serotonin transporter (SERT) determines the final serotonin availability and has been described as altered in inflammatory bowel diseases. IL-10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine that is involved in intestinal inflammatory processes and also contributes to intestinal mucosa homeostasis. The regulation of SERT by pro-inflammatory factors is well known; however, the effect of IL-10 on the intestinal serotoninergic system mediated by SERT remains unknown. Therefore, the aim of the present study is to determine whether IL-10 affects SERT activity and expression in enterocyte-like Caco-2 cells. Treatment with IL-10 was assessed and SERT activity was determined by 5-HT uptake. SERT mRNA and protein expression was analyzed using quantitative RT-PCR and western blotting. The results showed that IL-10 induced a dual effect on SERT after 6h of treatment. On one hand, IL-10, at a low concentration, inhibited SERT activity, and this effect might be explained by a non-competitive inhibition of SERT. On the other hand, IL-10, at a high concentration, increased SERT activity and molecular expression in the membrane of the cells. This effect was mediated by the IL-10 receptor and triggered by the PI3K intracellular pathway. Our results demonstrate that IL-10 modulates SERT activity and expression, depending on its extracellular conditions. This study may contribute to understand serotoninergic responses in intestinal pathophysiology.

Concepts: Inflammation, Protein, Molecular biology, Cell membrane, Ulcerative colitis, Serotonin, Serotonin transporter, Enterochromaffin cell


Clear recognition of the damaging effects of poverty on early childhood development has fueled an interest in interventions aimed at mitigating these harmful consequences. Psychosocial interventions aimed at alleviating the negative impacts of poverty on children are frequently shown to be of benefit, but effect sizes are typically small to moderate. However, averaging outcomes over an entire sample, as is typically done, could underestimate efficacy because weaker effects on less susceptible individuals would dilute estimation of effects on those more disposed to respond. This study investigates whether a genetic polymorphism of the serotonin transporter gene moderates susceptibility to a psychosocial intervention.

Concepts: Genetics, Allele, Randomized controlled trial, Effectiveness, Childhood, Serotonin, Developmental psychology, Serotonin transporter


The role that probiotics play in relieving irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has been demonstrated; however, the mechanism by which IBS is affected remains unclear. In this study, serotonin transporter (SERT) mRNA and serotonin transporter protein (SERT-P) levels in HT-29, Caco-2 cells, and mice intestinal tissues were examined after treatment with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG supernatant (LGG-s).

Concepts: Bacteria, Constipation, Irritable bowel syndrome, Flatulence, Probiotic, Lactobacillus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Serotonin transporter


Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) has been linked with several inflammation-associated intestinal diseases, including ulcerative colitis (UC). The largest pool of 5-HT in the body is in enterochromaffin (EC) cells located throughout the intestinal tract. EC cells are mechanosensitive and detect noxious stimuli, inducing secretion of 5-HT, which plays an important role in enteric reflexes and immunomodulation. In this study, we evaluated intestinal 5-HT levels in the Winnie mouse model of spontaneous chronic colitis, which closely replicates UC.

Concepts: Bacteria, Ulcerative colitis, Intestine, Gastroenterology, Serotonin, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Serotonin transporter, Enterochromaffin cell