Antidepressant effects of light therapy combined with sleep deprivation are influenced by a functional polymorphism within the promoter of the serotonin transporter gene

Biol Psychiatry. 2003 Oct 1;54(7):687-92. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(02)01894-2.


Background: A functional polymorphism within the promoter of the serotonin transporter has been shown to influence the antidepressant response to serotonergic drug treatments and to total sleep deprivation (TSD). The short-term relapse that follows acute response to TSD has been successfully prevented by combining TSD with light therapy. The mechanism of action of this combined treatment is unknown.

Methods: We tested the hypothesis that allelic variation of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) could influence the response to the combination of light therapy and TSD. Twenty-two bipolar depressed inpatients were administered a night of TSD combined with 30 min light therapy given during the TSD night and in the morning after recovery sleep. 5-HTTLPR was genotyped using polymerase chain reaction techniques. Changes in perceived mood were rated on a visual analog scale.

Results: Light therapy sustained the effect of TSD. The effect was more marked in homozygotes for the long variant of 5-HTTLPR than in heterozygotes and homozygotes for the short variant.

Conclusions: The influence of 5-HTTLPR on response to the combination of TSD and light therapy is similar to that observed on response to TSD and serotonergic drug treatments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Bipolar Disorder / therapy*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Time Factors


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins