Association between the serotonin transporter triallelic genotype and eating problems is moderated by the experience of childhood trauma in women

Scott F. Stoltenberg, Cynthia Anderson, Parthasarathi Nag, Cheryl Anagnopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


Objective: This study investigated a potential interaction between the triallelic polymorphism of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) promoter and the experience of childhood trauma on the number of problem eating behaviors. Method: The study sample was comprised of 439 (64.7% female) Caucasian college students (mean age = 22.49, SD = 6.12). Participants completed questionnaires that assessed eating problems and experience of trauma in childhood (ages 0-12) and donated cheek cells for 5-HTTLPR and rs25531 genotyping. Results: Women carrying a lower expressing allele (i.e., L G or S) who were exposed to higher levels of childhood trauma reported significantly higher mean numbers of eating problems (gender × genotype × trauma interaction, p =.006). Discussion: These results are consistent with findings that the lower expressing alleles of the SLC6A4 promoter are associated with increased sensitivity to the negative impact of childhood stressors on adult behavioral outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)492-500
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2012



  • SERT
  • early life stress
  • genotype by environment interaction
  • maltreatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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