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Influence of SERTPR and STin2 in the serotonin transporter gene on the effect of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in depression: a systematic review


Large differences in clinical response to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are observed in depressive patients with different genotypes. Quantification of these differences is needed to decide if genetic testing prior to antidepressant treatment is useful. We conducted a systematic review of the literature on the influence of polymorphisms in the serotonin transporter gene (SERTPR (or 5-HTTLPR) and STin2) on SSRI response. Studies were identified by the use of MEDLINE, EmBase and PsycINFO, references of articles, reviews and information from pharmaceutical companies. Nine studies assessing the influence of SERTPR or STin2 on treatment response were included. Outcome was expressed as the percentage of decrease in depression score (HAM-D or MADRS) or as the percentage of responders (≥50% reduction on the depression scale). Both study methodologies and study outcomes showed large heterogeneity. Weighted mean decreases in depression score for patients with the s/s, s/l and l/l genotypes were 35.4, 46.3 and 48.0% at week 4, respectively, and 53.9, 54.6 and 48.3% at week 6. Among Caucasian patients, both mean decrease in depression score and response rate were lowest in the s/s group, while among Asian patients, results were inconsistent. Weighted response rates were 36.1% for the 10/12 genotype of the STin2 polymorphism and 80.7% for the 12/12 genotype (χ2=27.8, P<0.001) (only Asians). The available evidence points to a less favourable response to SSRI treatment among Caucasian patients with the SERTPR s/s genotype and among (Asian) patients with the STin2 10/12 genotype. In view of the scarcity and heterogeneity of the studies, however, current information is insufficiently reliable as a basis for implementing genetic testing in the diagnostic work-up of the depressive patient.

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Correspondence to K M Smits.

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Smits, K., Smits, L., Schouten, J. et al. Influence of SERTPR and STin2 in the serotonin transporter gene on the effect of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in depression: a systematic review. Mol Psychiatry 9, 433–441 (2004).

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  • depression
  • genetic polymorphisms
  • serotonin transporter
  • drug effects
  • antidepressants

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