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Interaction of catechol O-methyltransferase and serotonin transporter genes modulates effective connectivity in a facial emotion-processing circuitry

Abstract : Imaging genetic studies showed exaggerated blood oxygenation level-dependent response in limbic structures in carriers of low activity alleles of serotonin transporter-linked promoter region (5-HTTLPR) as well as catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) genes. This was suggested to underlie the vulnerability to mood disorders. To better understand the mechanisms of vulnerability, it is important to investigate the genetic modulation of frontal-limbic connectivity that underlies emotional regulation and control. In this study, we have examined the interaction of 5-HTTLPR and COMT genetic markers on effective connectivity within neural circuitry for emotional facial expressions. A total of 91 healthy Caucasian adults underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging experiments with a task presenting dynamic emotional facial expressions of fear, sadness, happiness and anger. The effective connectivity within the facial processing circuitry was assessed with Granger causality method. We have demonstrated that in fear processing condition, an interaction between 5-HTTLPR (S) and COMT (met) low activity alleles was associated with reduced reciprocal connectivity within the circuitry including bilateral fusiform/inferior occipital regions, right superior temporal gyrus/superior temporal sulcus, bilateral inferior/middle prefrontal cortex and right amygdala. We suggest that the epistatic effect of reduced effective connectivity may underlie an inefficient emotion regulation that places these individuals at greater risk for depressive disorders.
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S Surguladze, J Radua, Wissam El-Hage, B Gohier, J Sato, et al.. Interaction of catechol O-methyltransferase and serotonin transporter genes modulates effective connectivity in a facial emotion-processing circuitry. Translational Psychiatry, Nature Pub. Group, 2012, 2 (1), pp.e70-e70. ⟨10.1038/tp.2011.69⟩. ⟨hal-02524306⟩

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