After the death of a family member or other traumatic event, some people
slip into depression while others bounce back. Now, new findings by an international
team of researchers from England, New Zealand, and the United States indicate
that people with a certain variant of a gene for a brain chemical are more
than twice as likely as those with a different variant to develop depression
after stressful events (Science. 2002;301:386-389).
In the prospective, longitudinal study of 847 adults, the investigators
focused on two forms of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTT), which encodes a protein in neurons that recycle serotonin after
the chemical is secreted into the synapse. This protein—whose action
is blocked by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors—is believed to
play a role in mood disorders.
Stephenson J. Global TB/HIV Crisis. JAMA. 2003;290(6):740. doi:10.1001/jama.290.6.740-a