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.