The serotonin transporter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) and cortisol stress responsiveness: preliminary evidence for a modulating role for sleep quality

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Abstract

The short (S) allele of a functional polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) within the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) is found to predispose the risk for stress-related affective disorders relative to the long (L) allele. Evidence suggests that elevated stress reactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis might underlie this association although there is little understanding about the origin of inconsistent findings. Since inadequate sleep is commonly known to promote HPA stress reactivity, it might well play an important modulating role. The present study tested this hypothesis by investigating whether sleep quality moderates the relationship between 5-HTTLPR and cortisol stress responsiveness. From a large 5-HTTLPR database (n = 771), a sample of healthy male and female participants homozygous for either the 5-HTTLPR S-allele (n = 25) or L-allele (n = 25) were assessed for sleep quality and salivary cortisol secretion during acute laboratory stress. Diminished sleep quality was found to exclusively potentiate cortisol stress reactivity in the homozygous L-allele genotype. Accounting for this 5-HTTLPR-dependent influence enhanced the predictive value of 5-HTTLPR on cortisol stress responsiveness, revealing greater HPA reactivity in S-allele relative to L-allele carriers. Current findings suggest that variations in sleep quality may serve as a confounding factor in the search for genetic differences in stress sensitivity and related affective disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-510
Number of pages8
JournalStress-the International Journal on the Biology of Stress
Volume21
Issue number6
Early online date23 May 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2018

Keywords

  • Journal Article
  • stress
  • DEPRESSION
  • 5-HTTLPR
  • SOCIAL STRESS
  • GENOTYPE
  • REACTIVITY
  • PROMOTER POLYMORPHISM
  • ENVIRONMENTAL ADVERSITY
  • sleep
  • cortisol
  • GENETIC-VARIATION
  • hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis
  • depression
  • LIFE EVENTS
  • ASSOCIATION
  • UNDER-THE-CURVE

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