Association study of a monoamine oxidase a gene promoter polymorphism with major depressive disorder and antidepressant response

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2005 Sep;30(9):1719-23. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1300785.


Monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), a mitochondrial enzyme involved in the degradation of biogenic amines, may be implicated in the pathogenesis of major depressive disorder (MDD) and be related to the therapeutic effects of antidepressants. To elucidate a genetic predisposition of MDD, we studied a variable-number-tandem-repeat (VNTR) polymorphism in the promoter region of the MAOA gene in a Chinese population of 230 MDD patients and 217 controls. We also examined the association of this polymorphism and antidepressant therapeutic response in the MDD patients who underwent a 4-week fluoxetine treatment. Our results showed a significantly increased frequency of 4-repeat (4R) allele in MDD patients, especially in the female population. Furthermore, MDD female patients who were 3R homozygotes had a significantly better response to 4-week fluoxetine treatment when compared to 4R carriers (p=0.024), but there was a nonsignificant difference found in male patients (p=0.081). Since the 4R allele transcribed 2-10 times more efficiently than those with 3R allele, our findings suggest that the MAOA-uVNTR may be involved in the pathogenesis of MDD and the antidepressant therapeutic mechanisms in Chinese population, and that there may be a gender effect in this association.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alleles
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / genetics*
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / therapeutic use*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minisatellite Repeats / genetics*
  • Monoamine Oxidase / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Fluoxetine
  • Monoamine Oxidase