Ethnopsychopharmacology and pharmacogenomics

Adv Psychosom Med. 2013;33:88-96. doi: 10.1159/000348741. Epub 2013 Jun 25.


Significant differences in response to psychotropic drugs are observed in various ethnic and cultural groups. Ethnopsychiatry is the study of how culture and genetic differences in human groups determine and influence the response to psychotropic agents. Meanwhile, pharmacogenomics studies the influence of genetic variations in the response of patients to different drugs. Pharmacogenetic tests are used to predict drug response and the potential for adverse effects. There are important genetic variations that influence the metabolism and action of psychotropic drugs in different ethnic groups. As examples, the frequencies of CYP2D6 polymorphisms and of the long and short alleles of the promoter region of the serotonin transporter are analyzed. Studies found significant differences in the frequency of polymorphisms of both genes in different countries and ethnic groups. On the basis of this review, the importance of considering ethnic and cultural factors in the prescription of drugs and in the need of further pharmacogenetic studies in different countries and geographical regions is reaffirmed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biotransformation / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / genetics
  • Ethnicity / genetics
  • Ethnopsychology / methods
  • Ethnopsychology / trends
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / ethnology
  • Mental Disorders* / genetics
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Psychotropic Drugs / pharmacokinetics*


  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6