Role of COMT, 5-HT(1A) , and SERT genetic polymorphisms on antidepressant response to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Depress Anxiety. 2011 Jul;28(7):568-73. doi: 10.1002/da.20815. Epub 2011 Mar 29.


Background: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an effective technique in the treatment of depression, specifically in drug-resistant patients. However, there is little data available on the influence of genetic variables on TMS response.

Methods: We analyzed the role of three genetic polymorphisms that affected the antidepressant response: serotonin transporter promoter region (SERTPR) polymorphism, 5-HT(1A) serotonergic receptor promoter region polymorphism (rs6295), and the coding region of COMT gene polymorphism (rs4680). Ninety patients with a major depressive drug-resistant episode due to a Major Depressive Disorder or to a Bipolar Disorder were included in our study. Patients underwent high frequency TMS, focused on the left prefrontal cortex, for 2 weeks. At study completion, the response rate was 45.5%. Effects of gene polymorphisms on clinical improvement were analyzed with an analysis of variance with each gene (SERTPR, 5-HT(1A) , and COMT) as factors and the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression variation from baseline to the end of the treatment as a dependent variable.

Results: We found a significant model in which three factors were not significant (diagnosis, COMT, and SERTPR), whereas factor 5-HT(1A) showed a significant influence on the outcome, with patients with C/C genotype showing a greater improvement than G/G and C/G and no difference between G/G and C/G.

Conclusion: According to our data, 5-HT(1A) polymorphism may play a role in influencing TMS response. The effect of COMT and SERTPR did not reach statistical significance. The analysis of these and other candidate genes in larger samples could help explain genetic influence on TMS response.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alleles*
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis
  • Bipolar Disorder / genetics*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • Bipolar Disorder / therapy*
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / genetics*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Open Reading Frames / genetics
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Psychometrics
  • Receptors, Serotonin, 5-HT1 / genetics*
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Receptors, Serotonin, 5-HT1
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase