5-HTTLPR polymorphism and anxious preoccupation in early breast cancer patients
Background. Difficulties in coping with cancer, and the accompanying anxious and depressive symptoms, have been shown to affect the mood and the quality of life in breast cancer patients. 5-Hydroxytryptamine Transporter Gene-linked Polymorphic Region (5-HTTLPR) functional polymorphism of serotonin transporter has been shown to influence the adaptation to stressful life events. The aim of this prospective study was therefore to examine the association of 5-HTTLPR with the mental adaptation to cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Patients and methods. Forty eight consecutive patients with early mammary carcinoma were evaluated at enrolment and at follow up after one and three months. The patients were characterized psychometrically using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the Mini-Mental Adjustment to Cancer Scale (Mini-MAC); 5-HTTLPR allelic variants were determined using PCR-based techniques.
Results. In women with early breast cancer, the mental adaptation to the disease was associated with high scores of avoidance and anxious preoccupation of Mini-MAC, which decreased with time at follow up. Anxious preoccupation decreased with time less in patients with the S/S and S/L genetic variant of 5-HTTLPR as compared with the L/L carriers (p=0.023), indicating gene - environment interactions.
Conclusions. These results indicate that the characterization of 5-HTTLPR allows the identification of breast cancer patients in greater risk of mental suffering, for which specific intervention may be focused; in case of drug therapy, they provide indications for the choice of most appropriate agent in a pharmacogenetic perspective.