The role of pharmacogenetics in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders

Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2009 Nov;24(6):277-88. doi: 10.1097/YIC.0b013e3283306a2f.


Although effective treatment for mood and anxiety disorders have been available for more than 40 years, 30-50% of depressed patients and 25% of patients with anxiety disorder do not respond sufficiently to first-line treatment with antidepressants. Genetic factors are supposed to play a major role in both variation of treatment response and incidence of adverse effects to medication. So far, candidate genes of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic pathways of antidepressants have been investigated, and associations between several candidate genes and response to antidepressants are reported. Two functional polymorphisms of the serotonin transporter gene, 5-HTTLPR and STin2 have been investigated in a large number of pharmacogenetic studies of depression; other candidate genes include serotonin receptor genes, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, P-glycoprotein (located in the blood-brain barrier), G-proteins, TPH1 and TPH2, MAOA, the noradrenaline transporter gene, FKBP5, or cytochrome P450 (CYP450) genes. CYP450 genes play a major role in the metabolism of a substantial part of psychotropics, including antidepressants, and the first estimates of dosage adjustments for antidepressants have been provided based on metabolizer status. Genome-wide association studies that use large numbers of single-nucleotide polymorphisms to screen the entire genome for alleles that influence a trait are now feasible, and the results of the first genome-wide association studies of antidepressant treatment outcome will soon be available. The current review not only updates pharmacogenetic research in depression but also focuses on antidepressant treatment response in anxiety disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy
  • Anxiety Disorders / genetics*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / genetics*
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Humans
  • Inactivation, Metabolic / genetics*
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents