5-HTTLPR biases Amygdala activity in response to masked facial expressions in major depression

Dannlowski, Udo, Ohrmann, Patricia, Bauer, Jochen, Deckert, Jurgen, Hohoff, Christa, Kugel, Harald, Arolt, Volker, Heindel, Walter L., Kersting, Anette, Baune, Bernhard T., and Suslow, Thomas (2008) 5-HTTLPR biases Amygdala activity in response to masked facial expressions in major depression. Neuropsychopharmacology, 33 (2). pp. 418-424.

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The amygdala is a key structure in a limbic circuit involved in the rapid and unconscious processing of facial emotions. Increased amygdala reactivity has been discussed in the context of major depression. Recent studies reported that amygdala activity during conscious emotion processing is modulated by a functional polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) in healthy subjects. In the present study, amygdala reactivity to displays of emotional faces was measured by means of fMRI at 3T in 35 patients with major depression and 32 healthy controls. Conscious awareness of the emotional stimuli was prevented via backward-masking to investigate automatic emotion processing. All subjects were genotyped for the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism. Risk allele carriers (S or LG) demonstrated increased amygdala reactivity to masked emotional faces, which in turn was significantly correlated with life-time psychiatric hospitalization as an index of chronicity. This might indicate that genetic variations of the serotonin transporter could increase the risk for depression chronification via altering limbic neural activity on a preattentive level of emotion processing.

Item ID: 6954
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1470-634X
Keywords: genetics; fMRI; amygdala; SLC6A4; 5-HTTLPR; major depression
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2010 00:07
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110319 Psychiatry (incl Psychotherapy) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health @ 100%
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