Journal Article Neuroticism associates with cerebral in vivo serotonin transporter binding differently in males and females

Tuominen, Lauri  ,  Miettunen, Jouko  ,  M Cannon, Dara  ,  C Drevets, Wayne  ,  G. Frokjaer, Vibe  ,  Hirvonen, Jussi  ,  Ichise, Masanori  ,  S Jensen, Peter  ,  Liisa, Keltikangas-Jarvinen  ,  M. Klaver, Jacqueline  ,  M. Knudsen, Gitte  ,  Takano, Akihiro  ,  Suhara, Tetsuya  ,  Hietala, Jarmo

Background: Neuroticism is a major risk factor for affective disorders. This personality trait has been hypothesized to associate with synaptic availability of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT), which critically controls serotonergic tone in the brain. However, earlier studies linking neuroticism and 5-HTT have failed to produce converging findings. Because sex affects both the serotonergic system and the risk that neuroticism poses to the individual, sex may modify the association between neuroticism and 5-HTT, but this question has not been investigated by previous studies.Methods: Here, we combined data from four different positron emission tomography imaging centers to address whether neuroticism is related to 5-HTT binding in vivo. The data set included 5-HTT binding potential (BPND) values from the thalamus and striatum, and personality scores from 91 healthy males and 56 healthy females. We specifically tested if the association between neuroticism and 5-HTT is different in females and males.Results: We found that neuroticism and thalamic 5-HTT BPND were associated in both males and females, but with opposite directionality. Higher neuroticism associated with higher 5-HTT BPND in males (standardized beta 0.292, p = .008), whereas in females, higher neuroticism associated with lower 5-HTT BPND (standardized beta -0.288, p = .014).Conclusions: The finding is in agreement with recent studies showing that the serotonergic system is involved in affective disorders differently in males and females and suggests that contribution of thalamic 5-HTT to the risk of affective disorders depends on sex.

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