Human amygdala volume is predicted by common DNA variation in the stathmin and serotonin transporter genes.

Research paper by D D Stjepanović, V V Lorenzetti, M M Yücel, Z Z Hawi, M A MA Bellgrove

Indexed on: 19 Jul '13Published on: 19 Jul '13Published in: Translational Psychiatry


Despite the relevance of changes in amygdala volume to psychiatric illnesses and its heritability in both health and disease, the influence of common genetic variation on amygdala morphology remains largely unexplored. In the present study, we investigated the influence of a number of novel genetic variants on amygdala volume in 139 neurologically healthy individuals of European descent. Amygdala volume was significantly associated with allelic variation in the stathmin (STMN1) and serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) genes, which have been linked to healthy and disordered affective processing. These results were replicated across both manual and automated methods of amygdala parcellation, although manual tracing showed stronger effects, providing a cautionary note to studies relying on automated parcellation methods. Future studies will need to determine whether amygdala volume mediates the impact of stathmin and serotonin transporter gene variants on normal and dysfunctional emotion processing.