Polymorphisms of stress-related genes and the risk of nonsyndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate

Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2011 Nov;91(11):948-55. doi: 10.1002/bdra.20843. Epub 2011 Aug 24.


Background: Nonsyndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate (NCL/P) is a common structural malformation with a complex and multifactorial etiology. It has been shown that maternal psychological stress in the periconceptional period can contribute to an increase in the risk of NCL/P affecting pregnancy.

Methods: Twenty-four single nucleotide polymorphisms of 11 stress-related genes (COMT, CRHR1, FKBP5, GABRA6, HSD11β2, MAOA, NPY, NR3C1, SERPINA6, SLC6A4, and TPH2) were investigated in 220 healthy mothers of children with facial clefts and 210 matched controls using restriction fragment-length polymorphism and high-resolution melting analysis.

Results: We found that polymorphisms in SLC6A4, TPH2, and SERPINA6 appear to be maternal factors increasing the risk of having a child with facial clefts. The closest correlations with NCL/P were found for the SLC6A4 rs2020942 and TPH2 rs10879357 gene variants (odds ratio [OR], 1.720; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.158-2.553; p = 0.0069; p(trend) = 0.0036; and OR, 1.837; 95% CI, 1.226-2.753, p = 0.0030, p(trend) = 0.0057; respectively). Moreover, haplotype analysis revealed that several combinations of markers in SLC6A4, TPH2, and SERPINA6 might be significantly associated with the risk of NCL/P affected pregnancies. However, these associations were not statistically significant after correction for multiple testing.

Conclusion: This study suggests that nucleotide variants of genes encoding components of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and serotoninergic system have a role in the etiology of NCL/P in the Polish population. SLC6A4, TPH2, and SERPINA6 might be novel candidate genes for this common congenital anomaly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cleft Lip / complications
  • Cleft Lip / epidemiology
  • Cleft Lip / etiology
  • Cleft Lip / genetics*
  • Cleft Palate / complications
  • Cleft Palate / epidemiology
  • Cleft Palate / etiology
  • Cleft Palate / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / genetics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / genetics*
  • Transcortin / genetics
  • Tryptophan Hydroxylase / genetics
  • Young Adult


  • SERPINA6 protein, human
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Transcortin
  • TPH2 protein, human
  • Tryptophan Hydroxylase