Sleep quality varies as a function of 5-HTTLPR genotype and stress

Psychosom Med. 2007 Sep-Oct;69(7):621-4. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31814b8de6. Epub 2007 Aug 31.


Objective: To test the hypothesis that allelic variation in 5HTT gene-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) genotype was associated with sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, PSQI) as a main effect and as moderated by the chronic stress of caregiving. Serotonin (5HT) is involved in sleep regulation and the 5HT transporter (5HTT) regulates 5HT function. A common 44-base pair deletion (s allele) polymorphism in the 5-HTTLPR is associated with reduced 5HTT transcription efficiency and 5HT uptake in vitro.

Methods: Subjects were 142 adult primary caregivers for a spouse or parent with dementia and 146 noncaregiver controls. Subjects underwent genotyping and completed the PSQI.

Results: Variation in 5-HTTLPR genotype was not related to sleep quality as a main effect (p > .36). However, there was a caregiver X 5-HTTLPR interaction (p < .009), such that the s allele was associated with poorer sleep quality in caregivers as compared with controls.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that the s allele may moderate sleep disturbance in response to chronic stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alleles
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / genetics*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological*


  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Serotonin