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The long-term behavioral, psychological, and neurobiological effects of exposure to potentially traumatic events vary within the human population. Studies conducted on trauma-exposed human subjects suggest that differences in trauma type and extent of exposure combine to affect development, maintenance, and treatment of a variety of psychiatric syndromes. The serotonin 1-A receptor (5-HT1A) is an inhibitory G protein-coupled serotonin receptor encoded by the HTR1A gene that plays a role in regulating serotonin release, physiological stress responding, and emotional behavior. Studies from the preclinical and human literature suggest that dysfunctional expression of 5-HT1A is associated with a multitude of psychiatric symptoms commonly seen in trauma-exposed individuals. Here, we synthesize the literature, including numerous preclinical studies, examining differences in alterations in 5-HT1A expression following trauma exposure. Collectively, these findings suggest that the impact of trauma exposure on 5-HT1A expression is dependent, in part, on trauma type and extent of exposure. Furthermore, preclinical and human studies suggest that this observation likely applies to additional molecular targets and may help explain variation in trauma-induced changes in behavior and treatment responsivity. In order to understand the neurobiological impact of trauma, including the impact on 5-HT1A expression, it is crucial to consider both trauma type and extent of exposure.


Michael W Lewis, Russell T Jones, Margaret T Davis. Exploring the impact of trauma type and extent of exposure on posttraumatic alterations in 5-HT1A expression. Translational psychiatry. 2020 Jul 16;10(1):237

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PMID: 32678079

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