Investigation of serotonin-related genes in antidepressant response

E. J. Peters, S. L. Slager, P. J. McGrath, J. A. Knowles, Steven P. Hamilton

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204 Scopus citations


In this study, we sought out to test the hypothesis that genetic factors may influence antidepressant response to fluoxetine. The investigation focused on seven candidate genes in the serotonergic pathway involved in the synthesis, transport, recognition, and degradation of serotonin. Our clinical sample consisted of 96 subjects with unipolar major depression treated with fluoxetine with response variables assessed after a 12-week trial. Patient data were also collected to investigate the pattern of drug response. Using a high-throughput single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping platform and capillary electrophoresis, we genotyped patients at 110 SNPs and four repeat polymorphisms located in seven candidate genes (HTR1A, HTR2A, HTR2C, MAOA, SLC6A4, TPH1, and TPH2). Statistical tests performed included single-locus and haplotype association tests, and linkage disequilibrium (LD) estimation. Little evidence of population stratification was observed in the sample with 20 random SNPs using a genomic control procedure. Our most intriguing result involved three SNPs in the TPH1 gene and one SNP in the SLC6A4 gene, which show significant single-locus association when response to fluoxetine is compared to nonresponse (P = 0.02-0.04). All odds ratios indicated an increased risk of not responding to fluoxetine. In the specific response vs nonspecific and nonresponse comparison, three SNPs in the TPH2 gene (P = 0.02-0.04) were positively associated and one SNP in the HTR2A gene (P = 0.02) was negatively associated. When comparing specific response to nonspecific response, we found significant negative associations in three SNPs in the HTR2A gene (P = 0.001-0.03) and two SNPs in the MAOA gene (P = 0.03-0.05). We observed variable, although strong LD, in each gene and unexpectedly low numbers of estimated haplotypes, formed from tagged SNPs. Significant haplotype associations were found in all but the HTR1A and HTR2C genes. Although these data should be interpreted cautiously due to the small sample size, these results implicate TPH1 and SLC6A4 in general response, and HTR2A, TPH2, and MAOA in the specificity of response to fluoxetine. Intriguingly, we observe that a number of the less frequent alleles of many of the SNP markers were associated with the nonresponse and nonspecific phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-889
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Antidepressant
  • Association
  • Linkage disequilibrium
  • Pharmacogenetic
  • SNP, haplotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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