Serotonin transporter gene promoter polymorphism and alexithymia

Michiko Kano, Tomoko Mizuno, Yuko Kawano, Masashi Aoki, Motoyori Kanazawa, Shin Fukudo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Recent neurobiological studies have reported that alexithymia may result from altered brain function related to emotional processing. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) has been shown to regulate central nervous system development associated with psychological processing. We investigated the possibility that polymorphism of the 5-HT transporter-linked promoter region (5-HTTLPR) is associated with alexithymia. Methods: This study included 304 healthy Japanese volunteers (148 males, 156 females). The subjects were categorized according to genotype (L/L, L/S, S/S) and results of the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS). Results: Subjects with the L/L genotype showed significantly higher TAS-20 scores, as well as significantly higher scores on the difficulty identifying feeling (DIF) subscale, than those with the L/S or S/S genotype (p < 0.05). There was a gender difference in the association between 5-HTTLPR genotype and DIF score. Female subjects with the L/L genotype showed significantly higher DIF scores than those with the L/S or S/S genotype (p ≤ 0.001). Neither STAI nor SDS was significantly associated with the 5-HTTLPR genotype. Conclusion: These results suggest a link between low synaptic 5-HT and alexithymia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-82
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Feb


  • 5-HTTLPR
  • Alexithymia
  • Gender
  • Serotonin


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