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Allelic variants in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene have been implicated in several psychiatric disorders and personality traits. In particular, two common alleles in a variable repeat sequence of the promoter region (SLC6A4) have been differentially associated with a display of abnormal levels of anxiety and affective illness in individuals carrying the "s" allele. The aim of this study was to compare the basal cerebral metabolic activity of non-psychiatric subjects in fronto-limbic structures to determine whether differences exist in basal metabolic activity within this functional polymorphism. PET scans with fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose as radiotracer were performed in 71 non-psychiatric subjects previously screened for psychopathology and subsequently genotyped for SLC6A4; PET images were compared with SPM2 according to s/s (n = 27), s/l (n = 25), and l/l (n = 19) groups considering a significance threshold in a priori selected areas of P < 0.001 and an extent threshold > or =5 voxels. The analysis showed an effect of interest among the three genotype groups in right anterior cingulate gyrus (ACC), left middle frontal gyrus, and left posterior cingulate gyrus (PCC). Comparison between l/l vs. s/s showed increased metabolism for l/l in left middle frontal gyrus and an increase for s/s in right ACC and left PCC. Comparison between s/s vs. s/l showed an increase for s/s in left PCC and right ACC. Increased basal metabolism in fronto-limbic structures for the s/s group may be conceived as an "overactive metabolic state" of these structures, possibly related to an increased susceptibility for developing an anxiety-depression spectrum disorder.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1197 - 1204


Adult, Alleles, Brain Mapping, Female, Frontal Lobe, Genotype, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Limbic System, Male, Membrane Glycoproteins, Membrane Transport Proteins, Middle Aged, Nerve Tissue Proteins, Polymorphism, Genetic, Positron-Emission Tomography, Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins