Availability of the serotonin transporter in patients with alcohol dependence

Pei Shen Ho, Mei Chen Shih, Kuo Hsing Ma, Wen Sheng Huang, Kellen Kai Jen Ho, Che Hung Yen, Ru Band Lu, San Yuan Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives. Evidence has suggested that the serotonin transporter (SERT) plays a role in the pathogenesis of alcohol dependence, anxiety and depression and that polymorphisms of the serotonin-transporter-linked promoter region (5-HTTLPR) may infl uence the SERT. This study evaluated the differences in SERT availability between healthy controls and alcoholic patients and the impact of 5-HTTLPR polymorphisms on SERT availability. Methods. Eleven healthy controls and 28 alcoholic patients were recruited. SERT availability was measured in vivo with single photon emission computed tomography and 123 I-labelled 2-((2-((dimethyl-amino)methyl)phenyl)thio)-5-iodophenylamine in the midbrain, thalamus and striatum. Each subject was genotyped for the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism. Results. Compared to healthy controls, there was a signifi cantly lower availability of SERT in the midbrain among patients with pure alcohol dependence (pure ALC). Of patients with anxiety, depression and alcohol dependence (ANX/DEPALC), the carriers of one L A allele showed a signify cantly higher availability of SERT in the striatum compared to non-L A carriers. After Bonferroni correction, these signifi cances vanished. There were no signifi cant differences in SERT availability between controls and ANX/DEP ALC. Conclusions. The results suggest that pure alcoholics may have lower SERT availability in the midbrain; the 5HTTLPR polymorphism may infl uence SERT availability in ANX/DEP ALC. These fi ndings may serve as a springboard for future large-scale studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-142
Number of pages9
JournalWorld Journal of Biological Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Mar

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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