DNA methylation in interleukin-11 predicts clinical response to antidepressants in GENDEP

Transl Psychiatry. 2013 Sep 3;3(9):e300. doi: 10.1038/tp.2013.73.


Transcriptional differences in interleukin-11 (IL11) after antidepressant treatment have been found to correspond to clinical response in major depressive disorder (MDD) patients. Expression differences were partly mediated by a single-nucleotide polymorphism (rs1126757), identified as a predictor of antidepressant response as part of a genome-wide association study. Here we attempt to identify whether DNA methylation, another baseline factor known to affect transcription factor binding, might also predict antidepressant response, using samples collected from the Genome-based Therapeutic Drugs for Depression project (GENDEP). DNA samples from 113 MDD individuals from the GENDEP project, who were treated with either escitalopram (n=80) or nortriptyline (n=33) for 12 weeks, were randomly selected. Percentage change in Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale scores between baseline and week 12 were utilized as our measure of antidepressant response. The Sequenom EpiTYPER platform was used to assess DNA methylation across the only CpG island located in the IL11 gene. Regression analyses were then used to explore the relationship between CpG unit methylation and antidepressant response. We identified a CpG unit predictor of general antidepressant response, a drug by CpG unit interaction predictor of response, and a CpG unit by rs1126757 interaction predictor of antidepressant response. The current study is the first to investigate the potential utility of pharmaco-epigenetic biomarkers for the prediction of antidepressant response. Our results suggest that DNA methylation in IL11 might be useful in identifying those patients likely to respond to antidepressants, and if so, the best drug suited to each individual.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Citalopram / therapeutic use*
  • CpG Islands*
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-11 / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nortriptyline / therapeutic use*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • IL11 protein, human
  • Interleukin-11
  • Citalopram
  • Nortriptyline