Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
The short (S) allele of the serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) has been associated with increased susceptibility to depression. Previous neuroimaging studies have consistently showed increased amygdala activity during the presentation of negative stimuli or regulation of negative emotion in the homozygous short allele carriers, suggesting the key role of amygdala response in mediating increased risk for depression. The brain default mode network (DMN) has also been shown to modulate amygdala activity. However, it remains unclear whether 5-HTTLPR genetic variation modulates functional connectivity (FC) between the amygdala and regions of DMN. In this study, we re-analyzed our previous imaging dataset and examined the effects of 5-HTTLPR genetic variation on amygdala connectivity. A total of 15 homozygous short (S/S) and 15 homozygous long individuals (L/L) were scanned in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during four blocks: baseline, sad mood, mood recovery, and return to baseline. The S/S and L/L groups showed a similar pattern of FC and no differences were found between the two groups during baseline and sad mood scans. However, during mood recovery, the S/S group showed signiﬁcantly reduced anti-correlation between amygdala and posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus (PCC/PCu) compared to the L/L group. Moreover, PCC/PCu-amygdala connectivity correlated with amygdala activity in the S/S group but not the L/L group. These results suggest that 5-HTTLPR genetic variation modulates amygdala connectivity which subsequently affects its activity during mood regulation, providing an additional mechanism by which the S allele confers depression risk.
Fang, Z., Zhu, S., Gillihan, S. J., Korczykowski, M., Detre, J. A., & Rao, H. (2013). Serotonin transporter genotype modulates functional connectivity between amygdala and PCC/PCu during mood recovery. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 704.