Gene variants of the serotonin transporter have been associated with vulnerability to affective disorders. In particular, the presence of one or two copies of the short (s) allele of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism has been associated with reduced serotonin transporter expression and function, and vulnerability to affective disorders. To test for an association between variants of the serotonin transporter gene polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) and relevant clinical features of borderline personality disorder (BPD), a psychiatric disorder with symptoms characteristic for serotonin dysfunction, 77 women with BPD were genotyped in the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism. They rated their subjective experience of borderline-specific, depressive, anxious and obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and were interviewed about lifetime incidence of suicide attempts and self-harming acts. Carriers of two s alleles of the 5-HTTLPR reported more symptoms of borderline, depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviours, but not of suicidal and self-injury behaviour, compared to carriers of a long (l) allele. This indicates that the 5-HTTLPR ss homozygous genotype might influence serotonin function affecting susceptibility to both borderline-specific, depressive, anxious and obsessive-compulsive symptoms in BPD, and leading to a more severe symptomatology related to these clinical features. Further, this suggests that 5-HTT gene variants may not be as influential on suicidal and self-injury behaviour in BPD.
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