Relationships among 5-HTT genotype, life events and gender in the recognition of facial emotions

Neuroscience. 2011 Jan 13:172:303-13. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.10.042. Epub 2010 Nov 4.


Accumulating evidence has shown that a polymorphism in the promoter region of the serotonin-transporter (5-HTTLPR) modulates neural activation during the perceptual processing of emotional facial expressions. Furthermore, behavioral research has shown that attentional bias for negative information is increased in s allele carriers. We examined the interactions among 5-HTTLPR (including SNP rs25531), life events and gender on the detection of facial emotions. We found a main effect of genotype, as well as moderating effects of childhood emotional abuse (CEA) and recent life events (RLE). S homozygous participants recognized negative facial expressions at a lower intensity than the other genotype groups. This effect was more evident in female participants and in participants who had experienced life events. The 5-HTTLPR genotype affects facial emotional perception, a process which is linked to a neurobiological response to threat and vulnerability to emotional disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / genetics*
  • Mood Disorders / metabolism
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Perceptual Disorders / genetics*
  • Perceptual Disorders / metabolism
  • Perceptual Disorders / physiopathology
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / genetics*
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Young Adult


  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins