Effects of Environmental Stress and Gender on Associations among Symptoms of Depression and the Serotonin Transporter Gene Linked Polymorphic Region (5-HTTLPR)
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The short (s) variant of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene linked functional polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) is associated with depression. Stressful life events, gender, and race have been shown to moderate this association. We examined the relationship between 5-HTTLPR genotype and symptoms of depression in two samples. Study 1 = 288 participants from a study of caregiver stress; and Study 2 = 142 participants from a study examining psychosocial stressors, genetics, and health. Main effects of 5-HTTLPR on symptoms of depression were examined, along with moderation by stress (caregiving status or low childhood socioeconomic status (SES), gender, and race. The 5-HTTLPR × stress group × gender interaction was significant in both samples (P < 0.003, and P < 0.008, respectively). For females, the s allele, combined with caregiving stress (Study 1) or low childhood SES (Study 2), was associated with higher depression scores as compared to participants in the non-stressor group and those with the long (l) allele; whereas, in males, the l allele, combined with a stressor, was associated with higher depression scores as compared to those in the non-stressor group and those with the s allele. Findings from two independent samples suggest that the association of 5-HTTLPR with depression varies according to gender and stressful life events.