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Life events, first depression onset and the serotonin transporter gene

  • Kay Wilhelm (a1), Philip B. Mitchell (a1), Heather Niven (a1), Adam Finch (a1), Lucinda Wedgwood (a1), Anna Scimone (a2), Ian P. Blair (a2), Gordon Parker (a1) and Peter R. Schofield (a3)...

Abstract

Background

A relationship between the serotonin transporter gene, adverse events and onset of major depression has been reported.

Aims

To replicate a gene × environment interaction in a cohort with longitudinal data for life events, experience of depression, parental bonding and neuroticism.

Method

Atthe 25-year follow-up, genomic DNA was obtained from 127 cohort members (mean age 48 years) to determine the genotype of the serotonin transporter gene-linked promoter region (5-HTTLPR). Associations were investigated between the 5-HTTLPR genotype, positive and adverse life events and the gene × environment interaction, and also between the 5-HTTLPR genotype and risk factors for depression.

Results

No relationship was found between 5-HTTLPR genotype and either risk factors for depression or positive life events. Adverse life events had a significantly greater impact on the onset of depression for individuals with the s/s genotype.

Conclusions

The 5-HTTLPR genotype is a significant predictor of onset of major depression following multiple adverse events. This is one of the more robust findings concerning specific biological risk factors for depression.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Associate Professor Kay Wilhelm, Consultation Liaison Psychiatry, Level 4, De Lacy Building, St Vincent's Hospital, Victoria Street, Sydney, New South Wales 2010, Australia. Tel: + 61 28 3823433; fax: +61 28 382 3479, e-mail: kwilhelm@stvincents.com.au

Footnotes

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See editorial, pp. 199–201, this issue.

Declaration of interest

None. Funding detailed in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes

References

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Life events, first depression onset and the serotonin transporter gene

  • Kay Wilhelm (a1), Philip B. Mitchell (a1), Heather Niven (a1), Adam Finch (a1), Lucinda Wedgwood (a1), Anna Scimone (a2), Ian P. Blair (a2), Gordon Parker (a1) and Peter R. Schofield (a3)...
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