News Release

Why some people are more prone to anxiety

Increased levels of serotonin transporters in the amygdala may be to blame

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Society for Neuroscience

Why Some People Are More Prone to Anxiety

image: Gene expression of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) in the right amygdala and vlPFC correlated with anxiety-like behavior in the human intruder test. view more 

Credit: Quah et al., JNeurosci 2020

Anxiety-prone people can blame serotonin cleanup proteins gone awry in their amygdala, according to research in marmosets recently published in JNeurosci. Targeting the amygdala with anti-anxiety medication could provide quicker relief.

The same event or set of life circumstances could send one person into the depths of anxiety or despair while leaving another unaffected. This distinction, called trait anxiety, arises from the proteins involved in serotonin signaling, a neurotransmitter implicated in anxiety and depression.

Quah et al. measured the level of gene expression for genes encoding serotonin transporters -- the protein tasked with cleaning up serotonin after its release -- and those encoding receptors in marmosets. The researchers focused on brain areas involved in emotional processing, such as the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Marmosets with greater trait anxiety had high levels of gene expression for serotonin transporters in their amygdalae. The research team administered selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a common anxiety medication, directly into the amygdalae of anxious marmosets. This provided immediate symptom relief -- an effect that normally takes several weeks to appear if the drug is taken orally.


Manuscript title: Trait Anxiety Mediated by Amygdala Serotonin Transporter in the Common Marmoset

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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