Recent findings demonstrated the role of neurotransmitters in the aetiopathogenesis of sudden unexpected deaths in infancy. Although genes involved in serotonin metabolism have been proposed as risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the contribution of additional neurotransmitters and genes different from the serotonin transporter (SLC6A4, 5-HTT) has not been investigated. Considering the common metabolic pathway and synergism between dopamine and serotonin, the role of dopamine transporter (SLC6A3, DAT) and monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) genes in SIDS and stillbirth (sudden intrauterine unexplained death, SIUD) was investigated. Genotypes and allelic frequencies of DAT and MAOA were determined in 20 SIDS and five stillbirth cases and compared with 150 controls. No association was found between DAT polymorphisms and SIDS either at genotype (P=0.64) or allelic (P=0.86) level; however, a highly significant association was found between MAOA genotypes (P=0.047) and alleles (P=0.002) regulating different expression patterns (3R/3R vs 3.5R/3.5R+4R/4R) in SIDS + SIUD and controls. Analysis of combined 5- HTTLPR (serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region)/ MAOA genotypes revealed that frequency of L/L-4R/4R genotype combination was eightfold higher in SIDS + SIUD than in controls (P<0.001). Findings are discussed considering the metabolic association among DAT, 5-HTT and MAOA with special emphasis on the linked action of 5- HTT/MAOA in regulating serotonin metabolism of SIDS and SIUD infants.
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