Recently it has been suggested that serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) and its 5HTTLPR poly-morphism could be involved in post stroke recovery. Here, we characterized the methylation profile of two different CpG islands within the SLC6A4 promoter region in the whole blood of 50 patients with subacute stroke before and after a six-week rehabilitation treatment. These patients were geno-typed for 5HTTLPR polymorphism identifying patients on the basis of short (S) and L (L) alleles: 17 patients LL, 22 patients LS and 11 patients SS. At baseline, all CpG sites for both CpG islands dis-played a heterogeneous methylation percentage that were not influenced by the different genotypes. After rehabilitation, we found a significant variation in the methylation levels (increase/decrease) in the specific CpG sites of both CpG islands. The statistical analysis showed a significant relationship between the LL, LS and SS alleles and the outcome of the rehabilitation intervention (χ2 (2,50) = 6.395, p = 0.041). Specifically, we found a significant difference between patients with or without a favorable outcome in the LL (11.1% with a favorable outcome) and in the SS (54.4% with a favorable outcome) groups. Our data suggest that 5-HTTLPR polymorphisms and SLC6A4 promoter methy-lation may be employed as a non-invasive biological marker of recovery in patients with stroke undergoing rehabilitation.
- 5-HTTLPR polymorphism
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