Modulation of glucocorticoids by the serotonin transporter polymorphism: A narrative review

T. M. Klein Gunnewiek, J. R. Homberg, T. Kozicz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The biological background and consequences of serotonin transporter polymorphism-glucocorticoid relationship in individual differences in stress reactivity has been a major interest in neuropsychiatry research. Individual differences in glucocorticoid release have long been implicated in vulnerability to stress-related psychopathologies, like depression and anxiety in various species. Yet, it is largely elusive to what extent results from non-human primates and rodents translate to human findings. Based on our structured, comprehensive and non-hypothesis driven overview of this topic, we conclude that although gene-environment interaction studies have highlighted the importance of serotonin transporter polymorphism in modulating glucocorticoid release, there is compelling evidence that age, gender and ethnicity are significant factors too contributing to the equation. We conclude too that the way early life events modulate an individual's stress reactivity as a function of serotonin transporter polymorphism is comparable between species. These data provide a rationale for the design of new, prospective translational studies into sex-specific gene-environment interactions across the lifespan with the goal of improving preventative efforts and optimizing (personalized) treatment in stress-related psychopathologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-349
Number of pages12
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • 5-HTTLPR
  • Age
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Early life adversity
  • Ethnicity
  • Glucocorticoid
  • Human
  • Hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • Mice
  • Primates
  • Rat
  • Serotonin
  • Serotonin transporter polymorphism
  • Sex
  • Stress reactivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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