Original Article

Neuroscience Bulletin

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 4-15

The long rather than the short allele of 5-HTTLPR predisposes Han Chinese to anxiety and reduced connectivity between prefrontal cortex and amygdala

  • Haixia LongAffiliated withLIAMA Center for Computational Medicine, National Laboratory of Pattern Recognition, Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • , Bing LiuAffiliated withLIAMA Center for Computational Medicine, National Laboratory of Pattern Recognition, Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • , Bing HouAffiliated withLIAMA Center for Computational Medicine, National Laboratory of Pattern Recognition, Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • , Chao WangAffiliated withKey Laboratory for NeuroInformation of the Ministry of Education, School of Life Science and Technology, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China
  • , Jin LiAffiliated withLIAMA Center for Computational Medicine, National Laboratory of Pattern Recognition, Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • , Wen QinAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, Tianjin Medical University General Hospital
  • , Dawei WangAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, Tianjin Medical University General Hospital
  • , Yuan ZhouAffiliated withKey Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • , Keith M. KendrickAffiliated withKey Laboratory for NeuroInformation of the Ministry of Education, School of Life Science and Technology, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China
    • , Chunshui YuAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, Tianjin Medical University General Hospital Email author 
    • , Tianzi JiangAffiliated withLIAMA Center for Computational Medicine, National Laboratory of Pattern Recognition, Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of SciencesKey Laboratory for NeuroInformation of the Ministry of Education, School of Life Science and Technology, University of Electronic Science and Technology of ChinaQueensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland Email author 

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Abstract

The short allele of the serotonin-transporter gene is associated with higher risk for anxiety and depression in Caucasians, but this association is still unclear in Asians. Here, we addressed this issue using behavioral and multi-modal MRI approaches in a large group of healthy Han Chinese participants (n = 233). In contrast to findings in Caucasians, we found that long-allele (L) carriers had higher anxiety scores. In another group (n = 64) experiencing significant levels of depression or anxiety, the L-allele frequency was also significantly higher. In healthy participants, L-carriers had reduced functional and anatomical connectivity between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex (PFC), which was correlated with anxiety or depression scores. Our findings demonstrated that in Chinese Han participants, in contrast to Caucasians, the L-allele confers vulnerability to anxiety or depression and weakens top-down emotional control between the PFC and amygdala. Therefore, ethnic background should be taken into account in generelated studies and their potential clinical applications.

Keywords

5-HTTLPR functional and anatomical connectivity amygdala prefrontal cortex Han Chinese