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Escitalopram Efficacy in Depression: A Cross-Ethnicity Examination of the Serotonin Transporter Promoter Polymorphism

Bousman, Chad A. MPH, PhD*†‡§; Sarris, Jerome MHSc, PhD*†; Won, Eun-Soo MD; Chang, Hun-Soo PhD; Singh, Ajeet MBBS, MPsych, MD*#; Lee, Hwa-Young MD, PhD**; Ham, Byung-Joo MD, PhD; Tan, Chay-Hoon MBBS, MMEd (Psy), PhD (Pharmacology), MMEd (Dundee)††; Lee, Min-Soo MD, PhD; Ng, Chee H. MBBS, MD*

Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology: October 2014 - Volume 34 - Issue 5 - p 645–648
doi: 10.1097/JCP.0000000000000165
Brief Reports

Current evidence suggests that polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) predicts antidepressant efficacy in whites but less so in Asians. However, it is not clear whether this effect can be observed for specific types of antidepressant drugs. White (n = 47) and Korean (n = 118) participants with major depressive disorder were treated with escitalopram and assessed over 8 weeks. Among those with the l/l but not l/s or s/s genotypes, whites had greater depression score reductions, response rates, and remission rates compared with Koreans. Our results suggest that 5-HTTLPR predicts escitalopram efficacy in an ethnicity-dependent manner.

From the *Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne, Parkville; †Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne; ‡Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health, Parkville; and §Department of General Practice, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; ∥Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul; and ¶Department of Medical Bioscience, Graduate School, Soonchunhyang University, Bucheon, Republic of Korea; #School of Medicine, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia; **Department of Psychiatry, Soonchunhyang University Cheonan Hospital, Cheonan City, Republic of Korea; and ††Department of Pharmacology, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore.

Received December 2, 2013; accepted after revision March 19, 2014.

Reprints: Chad A. Bousman, MPH, PhD, Level 3, Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne, 161 Barry Street, Carlton South, Australia (e-mail:

This investigator-initiated study was partly supported by an unrestricted research grant from H. Lundbeck A/S (at the site in Australia) and Changi General Hospital (at the site in Singapore). Courier of samples to Australia was facilitated by Quest Laboratories Pte Ltd. Escitalopram was sourced from H Lundbeck A/S.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.