Major depression, 5HTTLPR genotype, suicide and antidepressant influences on thalamic volume. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: The 5HTTLPR genetic variant of the serotonin transporter gene (SERT or 5-HTT), which is comprised of a short (SERT-s) and a long (SERT-l) allele, is associated with major depressive disorder and post-traumatic brain disorder. AIMS: The present study sought to determine whether the total thalamus and major subregions are altered in size in major depressive disorder and in relation to the 5HTTLPR genotype. METHOD: We investigated the influence of 5HTTLPR genotype, psychiatric diagnosis, suicide and other clinical factors on the volume of the entire post-mortem thalamus. RESULTS: Major depressive disorder, SERT-ss genotype and suicide emerged as independent factors contributing to an enlargement of the total thalamus. The majority of the volume enlargement associated with the SERT-ss genotype occurred in the pulvinar, whereas enlargement associated with major depressive disorder occurred in the limbic nuclei and in other regions of the thalamus. A history of antidepressant treatment was associated with reduced thalamic volume. CONCLUSIONS: The 5HTTLPR genetic variation may affect behaviour and psychiatric conditions, in part, by altering the anatomy of the thalamus.

published proceedings

  • Br J Psychiatry

author list (cited authors)

  • Young, K. A., Bonkale, W. L., Holcomb, L. A., Hicks, P. B., & German, D. C.

citation count

  • 45

complete list of authors

  • Young, Keith A||Bonkale, Willy L||Holcomb, Leigh A||Hicks, Paul B||German, Dwight C

publication date

  • April 2008