Interaction between SLC6A4 promoter variants and childhood trauma on the age at onset of bipolar disorders
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Age at onset (AAO) of bipolar disorders (BD) could be influenced both by a repeat length polymorphism (5HTTLPR) in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) and exposure to childhood trauma. We assessed 308 euthymic patients with BD for the AAO of their first mood episode and childhood trauma. Patients were genotyped for the 5HTTLPR (long/short variant) and the rs25531. Genotypes were classified on functional significance (LL, LS, SS). A sample of 126 Brazilian euthymic patients with BD was used for replication. In the French sample, the correlation between AAO and trauma score was observed only among 'SS' homozygotes (p = 0.002) but not among 'L' allele carriers. A history of at least one trauma decreased the AAO only in 'SS' homozygotes (p = 0.001). These results remained significant after correction using FDR. Regression models suggested an interaction between emotional neglect and 'SS' genotype on the AAO (p = 0.009) and no further interaction with other trauma subtypes. Partial replication was obtained in the Brazilian sample, showing an interaction between emotional abuse and 'LS' genotype on the AAO (p = 0.02). In conclusion, an effect of childhood trauma on AAO of BD was observed only in patients who carry a specific stress responsiveness-related SLC6A4 promoter genotype.
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