Convergent animal and human evidence suggests a role of PPM1A gene in response to antidepressants

Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Feb 15;69(4):360-5. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.08.011. Epub 2010 Oct 20.


Background: Antidepressant drugs are used as first-line treatment in depression, but response has been shown to be highly heterogeneous, with drugs often failing to have the desired therapeutic effect. We report on an integrative analysis from the Genome-Based Therapeutic Drugs for Depression (GENDEP) study using gene expression from mice to inform prioritization in a human pharmacogenetic study.

Methods: The same two antidepressants were used in mice and humans: escitalopram (a serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and nortriptyline (a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor). The animal study used four inbred strains of mice (129S1/SvlmJ, C57LB/6J, DBA/2J, and FVB/NJ). Hippocampus mRNA levels were measured in 144 animals using the Affymetrix MOE 430 v2 chip.

Results: Based on gene-expression analysis of strain-by-drug interactions, 17 genes differentially expressed with nortriptyline or escitalopram versus saline were prioritized in the human pharmacogenetic analysis. Single nucleotide polymorphisms tagging common sequence variation in human orthologs of these genes were tested for association with response to antidepressants in 706 participants of the GENDEP human pharmacogenetic study, treated with escitalopram or nortriptyline for 12 weeks, with available high-quality Illumina 610 quad array genotyping. Several polymorphisms in the protein phosphatase 1A gene (PPM1A) remained significantly associated with response to nortriptyline in humans after correction for multiple comparisons within the gene. PPM1A encodes a phosphatase involved in mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling and cell stress response.

Conclusions: Convergent evidence from mice and humans suggests a role of the PPM1A in response to noradrenergic but not serotonergic antidepressants.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Citalopram / pharmacology
  • Citalopram / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / genetics*
  • Depressive Disorder / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Genotype
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Middle Aged
  • Nortriptyline / pharmacology
  • Nortriptyline / therapeutic use*
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / genetics*
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / metabolism
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Protein Phosphatase 2C
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Citalopram
  • Nortriptyline
  • PPM1A protein, human
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases
  • Ppm1a protein, mouse
  • Protein Phosphatase 2C