Association of 5-HTT gene polymorphism, platelet MAO activity, and drive for thinness in a population-based sample of adolescent girls

Int J Eat Disord. 2008 Jul;41(5):399-404. doi: 10.1002/eat.20516.


Objective: Several lines of evidence suggest that alterations in serotonergic activity contribute to the pathophysiology of abnormal eating behaviors. Since platelet monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity and the 5-HT transporter gene promoter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) have been associated with eating disorders, the knowledge from a population-based sample may provide useful information which changes in 5-HT function observed in eating disorders represent trait vs. state effects.

Method: The sample was based on both cohorts of the Estonian Children Personality, Behavior and Health Study (ECPBHS). The current study was conducted during the second follow-up where altogether 82% from the original sample was recruited. EDI-2 subscales--Drive for Thinness and Bulimia--were used to determine eating attitudes and behaviors. Platelet MAO activity was measured and the participants were genotyped for the 5-HTTLPR.

Results: Allelic variation of 5-HTTLPR or platelet MAO activity were not independently associated with drive for thinness or binge eating, but girls homozygous for the 5-HTTLPR long allele and with high platelet MAO activity, both considered indicators of a higher capacity 5-HT system, exhibited higher scores of drive for thinness.

Conclusion: The results suggest that drive for thinness is the highest in girls with the presence of two markers of higher serotonergic capacity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Anorexia Nervosa / enzymology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / genetics*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology
  • Blood Platelets / enzymology*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / enzymology
  • Bulimia Nervosa / genetics*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology
  • Child
  • Drive
  • Estonia
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monoamine Oxidase / blood*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics*
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Thinness / genetics*
  • Thinness / psychology


  • Genetic Markers
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Monoamine Oxidase