Article

The Serotonin Transporter Promoter Variant (5-HTTLPR), Stress, and Depression Meta-analysis Revisited

Department of Human Genetics, University of Wuerzburg, Wuerzburg, Germany.
Archives of general psychiatry (Impact Factor: 14.48). 05/2011; 68(5):444-54. DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.189
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Two recent meta-analyses assessed the set of studies exploring the interaction between a serotonin transporter promoter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) and stress in the development of depression and concluded that the evidence did not support the presence of the interaction. However, even the larger of the meta-analyses included only 14 of the 56 studies that have assessed the relationship between 5-HTTLPR, stress, and depression.
To perform a meta-analysis including all relevant studies exploring the interaction.
We identified studies published through November 2009 in PubMed.
We excluded 2 studies presenting data that were included in other larger studies.
To perform a more inclusive meta-analysis, we used the Liptak-Stouffer z score method to combine findings of primary studies at the level of significance tests rather than the level of raw data.
We included 54 studies and found strong evidence that 5-HTTLPR moderates the relationship between stress and depression, with the 5-HTTLPR s allele associated with an increased risk of developing depression under stress (P = .00002). When stratifying our analysis by the type of stressor studied, we found strong evidence for an association between the s allele and increased stress sensitivity in the childhood maltreatment (P = .00007) and the specific medical condition (P = .0004) groups of studies but only marginal evidence for an association in the stressful life events group (P = .03). When restricting our analysis to the studies included in the previous meta-analyses, we found no evidence of association (Munafò et al studies, P = .16; Risch et al studies, P = .11). This suggests that the difference in results between meta-analyses was due to the different set of included studies rather than the meta-analytic technique.
Contrary to the results of the smaller earlier meta-analyses, we find strong evidence that the studies published to date support the hypothesis that 5-HTTLPR moderates the relationship between stress and depression.

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    • "This has led to a series of studies examining the extent to which variation in the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTT) might increase risk for depression. While the findings are somewhat mixed, past research has provided evidence that possessing the short allele of 5-HTT increases the probability that stressful events will lead to depression (Karg et al., 2011). In particular, guided by the differential susceptibility perspective (Belsky and Pluess, 2009), recent studies revealed that the short allele of 5-HTT enhances a person's sensitivity to environmental influence, whether that influence be adverse (i.e., " for worse effects " ) or supportive (i.e., " for better effects " ). "
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