Background: Personality trait is thought to be one of the important factors for vulnerability to depression. The relation between serotonin transporter (5-HTT) polymorphism and anxiety-related personality has been investigated in genetic research. In this study, we investigated the relation between in vivo regional 5-HTT binding in the brain and personality inventory measures in normal male volunteers.
Methods: Thirty-one healthy male volunteers underwent positron emission tomography scans with (11)C-labeled 3-amino-4-(2-dimethylaminomethyl-phenylsulfanyl) benzonitrile ([(11)C]DASB) to measure 5-HTT and completed revised NEO Personality Inventory. Correlation of [(11)C]DASB binding potentials (BP) with personality inventory measures was calculated using region-of-interest analysis and statistical parametric mapping based on the BP images.
Results: Neuroticism was positively correlated with 5-HTT binding in the thalamus (p = .004). No significant correlation was observed in any other brain region. Within the neuroticism dimension, the facet of depression was positively correlated with 5-HTT binding in the thalamus (p = .001).
Conclusions: Subjects with higher thalamic 5-HTT binding are more likely to express higher levels of neuroticism and depressive feeling. Serotonin transporter binding in the thalamus might be a marker of vulnerability to depression.