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Mol Psychiatry. 2003 Jul;8(7):646-53.

A systematic review of association studies investigating genes coding for serotonin receptors and the serotonin transporter: II. Suicidal behavior.

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  • 1Dougals Hospital Research Center, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


The different serotonin (5-HT) receptors, including the serotonin transporter (5-HTT), are excellent candidate genes for suicide and suicidal behavior, and thus, they have been investigated in a large number of allelic association studies. The individual results of these studies have been inconsistent and definite conclusions are difficult to establish. A reliable method for assessing individual studies and generating combined results is provided by systematic reviews using meta-analytical techniques. In this study, we carried out a systematic review of studies investigating 5-HT receptors and the 5-HTT in suicidal behavior. Studies were identified by means of MEDLINE database searches and by scanning reference lists. More than 190 articles were reviewed and 26 met the inclusion criteria. In all, 14 studies investigated six different 5-HT receptor loci and 12 studies investigated the 5-HTT promoter 44 bp insertion/deletion polymorphism. Two specific meta-analyses were carried out, pooling studies investigating the 5-HT2A 102 T/C and the 5-HTT promoter loci that included, respectively, a total of 1599 and 2539 subjects. The combined evidence was significant for association with the 5-HTT locus (Mantel-Haenszel weighted odds ratio (M-H(w) OR)=1.17 CI : 1.04-1.32, P=0.009), but not for the 5-HT2A 102 T/C variant (M-H(w) OR)=1.09 CI : 0.93-1.27, P=0.319). The 5-HTT result was robust and remained significant following sensitivity analysis, suggesting that 5-HTT may play a role in the predisposition to suicide.

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