Rare genetic functional variants can contribute to 30-40% of functional variability in genes relevant to drug action. Therefore, we investigated the role of rare functional variants in antidepressant response.
Mexican-American individuals meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD) participated in a prospective randomized, double-blind study with desipramine or fluoxetine. The rare variant analysis was performed using whole-exome genotyping data. Network and pathway analyses were carried out with the list of significant genes.
The Kernel-Based Adaptive Cluster method identified functional rare variants in 35 genes significantly associated with treatment remission (False discovery rate, FDR <0.01). Pathway analysis of these genes supports the involvement of the following gene ontology processes: olfactory/sensory transduction, regulation of response to cytokine stimulus, and meiotic cell cycleprocess.
Our study did not have a placebo arm. We were not able to use antidepressant blood level as a covariate. Our study is based on a small sample size of only 65 Mexican-American individuals. Further studies using larger cohorts are warranted.
Our data identified several rare functional variants in antidepressant drug response in MDD patients. These have the potential to serve as genetic markers for predicting drug response.