Sucrose preload reduces snacking after mild mental stress in healthy participants as a function of 5-hydroxytryptamine transporter gene promoter polymorphism

C. Rob Markus*, Lisa M. Jonkman, Aimee Capello, Sacha Leinders, Fabian Husch

*Corresponding author for this work

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Brain serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) dysfunction is considered to promote food intake and eating-related disturbances, especially under stress or negative mood. Vulnerability for 5-HT disturbances is considered to be genetically determined, including a short (S) allele polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) that is associated with lower serotonin function. Since 5-HT function may be slightly increased by carbohydrate consumption, S-allele 5-HTTLPR carriers in particular may benefit from a sugar-preload due to their enhanced 5-HT vulnerability. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether a sugar-containing preload may reduce appetite and energy intake after exposure to stress to induce negative mood, depending on genetic 5-HT vulnerability. From a population of 771 healthy young male and female genotyped college students 31 S/S carriers (8 males, 23 females) and 26 long allele (L/L) carriers (9 males, 17 females) (mean +/- S.D. 22 +/- 1.6 years; body mass index, BMI, 18-33 kg/m(2)) were monitored for changes in appetite and snacking behavior after stress exposure. Results revealed an increased energy intake after mild mental stress (negative mood) mainly for high-fat sweet foods, which was significantly greater in S/S carriers, and only in these genotypes this intake was significantly reduced by a sucrose-containing preload. Although alternative explanations are possible, it is suggested that S/S participants may have enhanced brain (hypothalamic) 5-HT responsiveness to food that makes them more susceptible to the beneficial satiation effects of a sucrose-preload as well as to the negative effects of mild mental stress on weight gain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-159
JournalStress-the International Journal on the Biology of Stress
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • 5-HTTLPR
  • mild stress
  • mood
  • snacking
  • sucrose
  • serotonin

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