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The World in Medicine
August 13, 2003

Global TB/HIV Crisis

JAMA. 2003;290(6):740. doi:10.1001/jama.290.6.740-a

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.