Serotonin transporter genotype and mild traumatic brain injury independently influence resilience and perception of limitations in veterans

J Psychiatr Res. 2013 Jun;47(6):835-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.02.006. Epub 2013 Mar 8.


Evidence indicates that individuals with the 5-HTTLPR variant short/short genotype have increased sensitivity to both positive and negative perceptions of perceived social support. The aim of this study was to evaluate this association among Veterans in the context of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). As part of a larger TBI center, we performed a cross-sectional study of 67 OEF/OIF/OND Veterans (41 with TBI and 26 controls without TBI) who completed the questionnaires and consented to genetic testing. The primary measures included the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CDRISC) and the Perceived Limitations in community participation subscale of the Community Reintegration of Service Members Instrument (CRIS-PL). Both 5-HTTLPR genotype and TBI status were independently associated with the CRIS-PL (p = .009 for genotype, p = .001 for TBI) and the CDRISC (p = .015 for genotype, p = .003 for TBI) scores. This study suggests that both the 5-HTTLPR genotype and TBI status independently, in an almost equal but opposite direction, influence resilience and perceived limitations to social participation. Further, resilience appears more sensitive to perceived limitations in Veterans carrying an S'S' genotype than in L' carriers, but only in the context of having sustained a TBI. While having a TBI appeared to increase a Veteran's sensitivity to social stress, the Veteran's who were L' allele carriers with a TBI fared the worst, with lower resilience and more perceived limitations for community participation compared to L' carrier Veterans without a TBI or Veterans with the S'S' genotype regardless of TBI status.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Alleles
  • Brain Injuries / genetics
  • Brain Injuries / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Self Concept
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Social Perception
  • Social Support
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / genetics
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Veterans / psychology*


  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins