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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2008 Oct;18(10):751-9. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2008.05.003. Epub 2008 Jun 24.

Cannabinoid receptor 1 (CNR1) gene: impact on antidepressant treatment response and emotion processing in major depression.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Muenster, Germany.


The endocannabinoid system has been implicated in the pathogenesis of depression and anxiety, the mediation of antidepressant drug effects in animal models and the neurobiology of emotion processing in healthy volunteers. Therefore, the impact of cannabinoid receptor 1 gene (CNR1) variants rs1049353 and rs12720071 on antidepressant treatment response was evaluated in 256 Caucasian patients with Major Depression. A subsample of 33 depressed patients was additionally scanned by fMRI under visual presentation of emotional faces. The CNR1 rs1049353 G allele conferred an increased risk of antidepressant treatment resistance, particularly in female patients with high comorbid anxiety. CNR1 rs1049353 G allele carriers also demonstrated weaker bilateral amygdala, putamen and pallidum activity as well as left lateralized caudate and thalamus activity in response to masked happy faces. This analysis provides preliminary support for a role of CNR1 gene variation in depression and anxiety, potentially mediated by subcortical hypo-responsiveness to social reward stimuli.

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