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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Multi-cultural Association of the Serotonin Transporter Gene (SLC6A4) with Substance Use Disorder

A number of studies have reported associations between the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) and alcohol, heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine abuse. Other studies have yielded contrary results. There are a number of reasons for non-replication, including inadequate statistical power, population stratification, and poor phenotype definition.
This study was to test the association using a meta-analytic approach across a variety of racial and ethnic populations. Using the genotype data of 55 studies (7999 cases, 8264 controls, and 676 families or parent-offspring trios) published in the past 15 years, we have conducted comprehensive meta-analyses to examine the associations of the 5-HTTLPR and STin2 polymorphisms with substance use disorder.
The meta-analyses support the associations of 5-HTTLPR with alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine dependence and abuse (eg, the smallest P-values were 0.0058 with odds ratio (OR)=0.54 (0.35, 0.84); 0.0024 with OR=0.77 (0.66, 0.91); 0.018 with OR=1.38 (1.06, 1.81); and 0.028 with OR=0.46 (0.23, 0.92) for alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine dependence/abuse, respectively).
When all the phenotypes are combined, the P-value was 0.0006 with OR=0.86 (0.78, 0.94) in the combined European, Asian, and Mexican populations and P-value was 0.0028 with OR=1.41 (1.13, 1.78) in the African populations.
Evidence of significant associations was also identified in other subgroup analyses regarding differently combined substance and populations. The effect sizes of 5-HTTLPR were comparable among the European, Asian, and Mexican populations, however, the risk allele was more frequent in Asians than in Europeans and Mexicans. The opposite directions of risk allele in African population might be driven by the opposite directions of risk allele in cocaine dependence.
This meta-analysis supports that the association of the SLC6A4 gene with substance use disorder varies depending on substances with different risk allele frequencies in the multi-cultural populations. Further studies using larger sample size are warranted.
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