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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Psychiatric Genetics, Volume 14, Issue 1, March 2004, Pages 25-32.

The published version is available at Copyright © Lippincott Williams & Wilkins


Alterations in the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) have been implicated in a variety of psychiatric disorders including cocaine dependence. A polymorphism in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) appears to influence the expression of 5-HTT in human cell lines. We investigated whether 5-HTTLPR variants were related to differences in measures of platelet 5-HTT sites in cocaine-dependent patients and healthy volunteers (controls). Polymerase chain reaction-based genotyping of a 44 base pair insertion/deletion polymorphism in 5-HTTLPR was performed in 138 cocaine-dependent African-American subjects and 60 African-American controls. This yielded a short (S) and a long (L) allele. Platelet 5-HTT sites were measured using the tritiated paroxetine binding assay. Relationships of 5-HTTLPR genotypes with Bmax (density of serotonin transporter) and Kd (affinity constant) were examined. Bmax values were significantly lower in cocaine-dependent patients (640 +/- 233) than controls (906 +/- 225) (P < 0.001); however, 5-HTTLPR genotype distributions or allele frequencies did not differ between the two groups. There were no significant differences in Bmax between the three genotypes among cocaine-dependent patients (LL = 690 +/- 246, LS = 620 +/- 235, SS = 587 +/- 183; P = 0.14) or controls (LL = 909 +/- 233, LS = 938 +/- 279, SS = 866 +/- 143; P = 0.65). All three genotypes in cocaine-dependent patients showed comparable reductions in Bmax from the corresponding genotypes in controls. Demographic variables, severity of substance use or depression were unrelated to Bmax or 5-HTTLPR genotypes. Although platelet 5-HTT densities are reduced in patients with cocaine dependence compared with healthy volunteers, these genotypic variations in the serotonin transporter do not seem to influence levels of platelet 5-HTT in cocaine-dependent patients or healthy volunteers.

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