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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Aug 16;34(6):934-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2010.04.020. Epub 2010 May 5.

Serotonin transporter gene polymorphisms and treatment-resistant depression.

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Genetic Unit, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio, Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy.


Major Depression Disorder (MDD) is a serious mental illness that is one of the most disabling diseases worldwide. In addition, approximately 15% of depression patients are defined treatment-resistant (TRD). Preclinical and genetic studies show that serotonin modulation dysfunction exists in patients with TRD. Some polymorphisms in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) are likely to be involved in the pathogenesis/treatment of MDD; however, no data are available concerning TRD. Therefore, in order to investigate the possible influence of SLC6A4 polymorphisms on the risk of TRD, we genotyped 310 DSM-IV MDD treatment-resistant patients and 284 healthy volunteers. We analysed the most studied polymorphism 5-HTTLPR (L/S) and a single nucleotide substitution, rs25531 (A/G), in relation to different functional haplotype combinations. However the correct mapping of rs25531 is still debated whether it is within or outside the insertion. Our sequencing analysis showed that rs25531 is immediately outside of the 5-HTTLPR segment. Differences in 5-HTTLPR allele (p=0.04) and in L allele carriers (p<0.05) were observed between the two groups. Concerning the estimated haplotype analyses, L(A)L(A) homozygote haplotype was more represented among the control subjects (p=0.01, OR=0.64 95%CI: 0.45-0.91). In conclusion, this study reports a protective effect of the L(A)L(A) haplotype on TRD, supporting the hypothesis that lower serotonin transporter transcription alleles are correlated to a common resistant depression mechanism.

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