New insights into the pharmacogenomics of antidepressant response from the GENDEP and STAR*D studies: rare variant analysis and high-density imputation

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Abstract

Genome-wide association studies have generally failed to identify polymorphisms associated with antidepressant response. Possible reasons include limited coverage of genetic variants that this study tried to address by exome genotyping and dense imputation. A meta-analysis of Genome-Based Therapeutic Drugs for Depression (GENDEP) and Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) studies was performed at the single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), gene and pathway levels. Coverage of genetic variants was increased compared with previous studies by adding exome genotypes to previously available genome-wide data and using the Haplotype Reference Consortium panel for imputation. Standard quality control was applied. Phenotypes were symptom improvement and remission after 12 weeks of antidepressant treatment. Significant findings were investigated in NEWMEDS consortium samples and Pharmacogenomic Research Network Antidepressant Medication Pharmacogenomic Study (PGRN-AMPS) for replication. A total of 7062 950 SNPs were analyzed in GENDEP (n = 738) and STAR*D (n = 1409). rs116692768 (P = 1.80e - 08, ITGA9 (integrin α9)) and rs76191705 (P = 2.59e - 08, NRXN3 (neurexin 3)) were significantly associated with symptom improvement during citalopram/escitalopram treatment. At the gene level, no consistent effect was found. At the pathway level, the Gene Ontology (GO) terms GO: 0005694 (chromosome) and GO: 0044427 (chromosomal part) were associated with improvement (corrected P = 0.007 and 0.045, respectively). The association between rs116692768 and symptom improvement was replicated in PGRN-AMPS (P = 0.047), whereas rs76191705 was not. The two SNPs did not replicate in NEWMEDS. ITGA9 codes for a membrane receptor for neurotrophins and NRXN3 is a transmembrane neuronal adhesion receptor involved in synaptic differentiation. Despite their meaningful biological rationale for being involved in antidepressant effect, replication was partial. Further studies may help in clarifying their role.

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