Hallucinations In Schizophrenia: Genetic Findings

July 30, 1998

A Functional Serotonin Transporter (5-HTT) Polymorphism Is Associated With Psychosis In Neuroleptic-Free Schizophrenics

AK Malhotra, D Goldman, C Mazzanti, A Clifton, A Breier, D Pickar

The neurotransmitter serotonin has been implicated in the pathophysiology of psychosis. The serotonin transporter (5-HTT) plays a critical role in regulation of serotoninergic function. A recently identified polymorphism in the promoter region of the 5-HTT gene (5-HTTLPR) produces significant differences in 5-HTT expression and function. The authors investigated whether 5-HTTLPR is associated with psychosis by genotyping 50 schizophrenic or schizoaffective patients at 5-HTTLPR and conducting double-blind Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) ratings while the patients were neuroleptic-free. Patients with the 5-HTTLPR ll genotype had significantly higher BPRS ratings for psychosis than patients with the ls or ss genotypes. Examination of individual items revealed a specific significant increase in intensity of hallucinations in patients with the 5-HTTLPR ll genotype. These data provide preliminary evidence for a role of serotonin in the pathophysiology of hallucinations and may represent the identification of an allelic variant that modifies the complex clinical presentation of schizophrenia.

Contact author:
Anil K. Malhotra
Long Island Jewish Medical Center
New York
and National Institute of Mental Health, USA
tel: +1-718-470-8012
FAX: +1-718-343-1659

Pre-prints of this paper may be obtained from Julie A. Vianello (Tel: 301-496-6979; FAX: 301-402-1561; e-mail: vianello@codon.nih.gov)

This article will appear in the July 1998 (volume 3, no. 4) issue of Molecular Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed journal published by MacMillan Press-Stockton Press.

Molecular Psychiatry

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