Article

Association of the Serotonin Transporter Gene Promoter Region (5-HTTLPR) Polymorphism With Biased Attention for Emotional Stimuli

Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, Texas 78712, USA.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.15). 09/2009; 118(3):670-81. DOI: 10.1037/a0016198
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

A deletion polymorphism in the serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) has been associated with vulnerability to affective disorders, yet the mechanism by which this gene confers vulnerability remains unclear. Two studies examined associations between the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and attentional bias for emotional stimuli among nondepressed adults. Biased attention, attention engagement, and difficulty with attention disengagement were assessed with a spatial cuing task using emotional stimuli. Results from Study 1 (N = 38) indicated that short 5-HTTLPR allele carriers experienced greater difficulty disengaging their attention from sad and happy stimuli compared with long allele homozygotes. Study 2 participants (N = 144) were genotyped for the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism, including single nucleotide polymorphism rs25531 in the long allele of the 5-HTTLPR. Consistent with Study 1, individuals homozygous for the low-expressing 5-HTTLPR alleles (i.e., S and LG) experienced greater difficulty disengaging attention from sad, happy, and fear stimuli than high-expressing 5-HTTLPR homozygotes. Because this association exists in healthy adults, it may represent a susceptibility factor for affective disorders that becomes problematic during stressful life experiences.

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Available from: Christopher G Beevers
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    • "However, findings have been mixed. Some studies show that both psychiatric inpatients (Beevers et al., 2007) and healthy adults (Beevers et al., 2011; Beevers, Pacheco, Clasen, McGeary, & Schnyer, 2010; Beevers et al., 2009) possessing one or two copies of the S allele allocated more attentional resources broadly to any type of emotional face (e.g., happy, sad, or fearful vs. neutral) as compared to those homozygous for the L allele. In contrast, a recent metaanalysis found that those homozygous for the S allele showed an attention bias specifically to negative stimuli (e.g., sad, fearful, or threatening valenced faces, words, or pictures; Pergamin-Hight et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Attention bias to emotion may be an intermediate trait for stress-reactive psychopathology associated with biologically plausible candidate genes, yet the precise direction of effects within the youth literature remains unclear. The present study investigated whether stressful life events (SLEs) moderate the link between genetic risk (5-HTTLPR and COMT) and attention bias to emotion among youth (N = 467). Analyses revealed a differential effect of gene. Among youth who had experienced more recent SLEs, those homozygous for the low expressing allele of 5-HTTLPR (S/S) demonstrated preferential attention toward negative emotional expressions, whereas youth homozygous for the high expressing COMT genotype (Val/Val) showed attentional avoidance of positive facial expressions. No interaction between 5-HTTLPR and COMT was found. These findings highlight the importance of investigating stress as a moderator within the intermediate trait literature and suggest that biologically plausible candidate genes may have a differential effect in the pathway to psychological disorders.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015
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    • "However, findings have been mixed. Some studies show that both psychiatric inpatients (Beevers et al., 2007) and healthy adults (Beevers et al., 2011; Beevers, Pacheco, Clasen, McGeary, & Schnyer, 2010; Beevers et al., 2009) possessing one or two copies of the S allele allocated more attentional resources broadly to any type of emotional face (e.g., happy, sad, or fearful vs. neutral) as compared to those homozygous for the L allele. In contrast, a recent metaanalysis found that those homozygous for the S allele showed an attention bias specifically to negative stimuli (e.g., sad, fearful, or threatening valenced faces, words, or pictures; Pergamin-Hight et al., 2012). "

    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Clinical Psychological Science
    • "It will be important for future work to consider factors that may be related to mechanisms underlying the increased susceptibility of GABRA2 variants. For example, preliminary work within the serotonergic and dopaminergic systems have demonstrated that genetic variants associated with increased sensitivity to social contexts are also associated with individual differences to sensitivity to social experiences (Way and Taylor, 2010), reward sensitivity (Roiser et al., 2006), and enhanced attention to emotionally relevant stimuli (Beevers et al., 2009). Given that GABA-A is mainly expressed in brain reward circuitry such as the amygdala, the VTA, and the nucleus acumbens (Pirker et al., 2000), it follows that GABRA2 variants may reflect predispositions to reward sensitivity. "

    No preview · Chapter · Jan 2015
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