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The study of genetic polymorphisms related to serotonin in Alzheimer's disease: a new perspective in a heterogenic disorder

Author(s): Oliveira J.R.M. | Zatz M.

Journal: Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research
ISSN 0100-879X

Volume: 32;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 463;
Date: 1999;
Original page

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease | allelic association | serotonin polymorphisms

Genetic and environmental factors have been implicated in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common form of dementia in the elderly. Mutations in 3 genes mapped on chromosomes 21, 14 and 1 are related to the rare early onset forms of AD while the e4 allele of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene (on chromosome 19) is the major susceptibility locus for the most common late onset AD (LOAD). Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) is a key neurotransmitter implicated in the control of mood, sleep, appetite and a variety of traits and behaviors. Recently, a polymorphism in the transcriptional control region upstream of the 5-HT transporter (5-HTT) gene has been studied in several psychiatric diseases and personality traits. It has been demonstrated that the short variant(s) of this 5-HTT gene-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) is associated with a different transcriptional efficiency of the 5-HTT gene promoter resulting in decreased 5-HTT expression and 5-HT uptake in lymphocytes. An increased frequency of this 5-HTTLPR short variant polymorphism in LOAD was recently reported. In addition, another common polymorphic variation in the 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C serotonin receptor genes previously analyzed in schizophrenic patients was associated with auditory and visual hallucinations in AD. These observations suggest that the involvement of the serotonin pathway might provide an explanation for some aspects of the affective symptoms commonly observed in AD patients. In summary, research on genetic polymorphisms related to AD and involved in receptors, transporter proteins and the enzymatic machinery of serotonin might enhance our understanding of this devastating neurodegenerative disorder.
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