Sleep quality varies as a function of 5-HTTLPR genotype and stress

Beverly H. Brummett, Andrew D. Krystal, Allison Ashley-Koch, Cynthia M. Kuhn, Stephan Züchner, Ilene C. Siegler, John C. Barefoot, Edna L. Ballard, Lisa P. Gwyther, Redford B. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that allelic variation in 5HTT gene-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) genotype was associated with sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, PSQI) as a main effect and as moderated by the chronic stress of caregiving. Serotonin (5HT) is involved in sleep regulation and the 5HT transporter (5HTT) regulates 5HT function. A common 44-base pair deletion (s allele) polymorphism in the 5-HTTLPR is associated with reduced 5HTT transcription efficiency and 5HT uptake in vitro. METHODS: Subjects were 142 adult primary caregivers for a spouse or parent with dementia and 146 noncaregiver controls. Subjects underwent genotyping and completed the PSQI. RESULTS: Variation in 5-HTTLPR genotype was not related to sleep quality as a main effect (p > .36). However, there was a caregiver X 5-HTTLPR interaction (p < .009), such that the s allele was associated with poorer sleep quality in caregivers as compared with controls. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that the s allele may moderate sleep disturbance in response to chronic stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-624
Number of pages4
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • 5-HTTLPR
  • Gene-environment interaction
  • Serotonin transporter promoter gene polymorphism
  • Sleep quality
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Psychology(all)


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