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Serotonin transporter genotype modulates resting state and predator stress-induced amygdala perfusion in mice in a sex-dependent manner

: Kolter, J.F.; Hildenbrand, M.F.; Popp, S.; Nauroth, S.; Bankmann, J.; Rother, L.; Waider, J.; Deckert, J.; Asan, E.; Jakob, P.M.; Lesch, K.-P.; Schmitt-Böhrer, A.

Volltext ()

PLoS one. Online journal 16 (2021), Nr.2, Art. e0247311, 22 S.
ISSN: 1932-6203
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IIS ()

The serotonin transporter (5-HTT) is a key molecule of serotoninergic neurotransmission and target of many anxiolytics and antidepressants. In humans, 5-HTT gene variants resulting in lower expression levels are associated with behavioral traits of anxiety. Furthermore, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies reported increased cerebral blood flow (CBF) during resting state (RS) and amygdala hyperreactivity. 5-HTT deficient mice as an established animal model for anxiety disorders seem to be well suited for investigating amygdala (re-)activity in an fMRI study. We investigated wildtype (5-HTT+/+), heterozygous (5-HTT+/-), and homozygous 5-HTT-knockout mice (5-HTT-/-) of both sexes in an ultrahigh-field 17.6 Tesla magnetic resonance scanner. CBF was measured with continuous arterial spin labeling during RS, stimulation state (SS; with odor of rats as aversive stimulus), and post-stimulation state (PS). Subsequently, post mortem c-Fos immunohistochemistry elucidated neural activation on cellular level. The results showed that in reaction to the aversive odor CBF in total brain and amygdala of all mice significantly increased. In male 5-HTT +/+ mice amygdala RS CBF levels were found to be significantly lower than in 5-HTT+/-mice. From RS to SS 5-HTT+/+ amygdala perfusion significantly increased compared to both 5-HTT+/- and 5-HTT-/- mice. Perfusion level changes of male mice correlated with the density of c-Fos-immunoreactive cells in the amygdaloid nuclei. In female mice the perfusion was not modulated by the 5-Htt-genotype, but by estrous cycle stages. We conclude that amygdala reactivity is modulated by the 5-Htt genotype in males. In females, gonadal hormones have an impact which might have obscured genotype effects. Furthermore, our results demonstrate experimental support for the tonic model of 5-HTTLPR function.