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Human gene association studies have produced conflicting findings regarding the relationship between the 5-HT transporter (5-HTT) and anxiety. In the present study genetically modified mice were utilised to examine the effects of changes in 5-HTT expression on anxiety. In addition, the influence of 5-HTT expression on two innate "species-typical" behaviours (burrowing and marble burying) and body weight was explored. Across a range of models, 5-HTT overexpressing mice displayed reduced anxiety-like behaviour whilst 5-HTT knockout mice showed increased anxiety-like behaviour, compared to wildtype controls. In tests of species-typical behaviour 5-HTT overexpressing mice showed some facilitation whilst 5-HTT knockout mice were impaired. Reciprocal effects were also seen on body weight, as 5-HTT overexpressors were lighter and 5-HTT knockouts were heavier than wildtype controls. These findings show that variation in 5-HTT gene expression produces robust changes in anxiety and species-typical behaviour. Furthermore, the data add further support to findings that variation of 5-HTT expression in the human population is linked to changes in anxiety-related personality traits.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Neuropsychopharmacol

Publication Date





108 - 116


Animals, Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders, Behavior, Animal, Body Weight, Female, Humans, Male, Maze Learning, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Knockout, Motor Activity, Serotonin, Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins