Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) genetic variation and major depressive disorder prognosis: A five-year prospective cohort study of primary care attendees

Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2014 Jan;165B(1):68-76. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.32209. Epub 2013 Oct 4.


Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) genetic variation has been associated with the diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD) but no study to date has examined the effect MTHFR variation has on MDD prognosis. We sought to examine the prospective effects of two common MTHFR variants (C677T and A1298C) as well as seven haplotype-tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (htSNPs) on MDD prognosis over a 5-year (60-month) period. Participants were 147 depressed primary care attendees enrolled in the Diagnosis, Management and Outcomes of Depression in Primary Care (diamond) prospective cohort study. Prognosis of MDD was measured using three methods: (1) DSM-IV criteria, (2) Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), and (3) Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CESD). DSM-IV criteria for MDD was assessed using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview at baseline and 24, 36, 48, and 60 months post-baseline; whereas, PHQ-9 and CESD measures were employed at baseline and 12, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months post-baseline. Repeated measures analysis of variance showed that PHQ-9 symptom severity trajectories differed by C677T genotype (F = 3.34, df = 2,144, P = 0.038), with 677CC genotype showing the most severe symptom severity course over the 60 months of observation. Neither the A1298C polymorphism nor any of the htSNPs were associated with MDD prognosis regardless of measure used. Our results suggest that the MTHFR C677T polymorphism may serve as a marker for MDD prognosis pending independent replication.

Keywords: biomarker; depression; gene; trajectories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / enzymology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / genetics*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (NADPH2) / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Primary Health Care
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychological Tests
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Genetic Markers
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (NADPH2)