Common genetic variation in the indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase genes and antidepressant treatment outcome in major depressive disorder

Jessica A. Cutler, A. John Rush, Francis J. McMahon, Gonzalo Laje

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The essential amino acid tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin, but it can also be metabolized into kynurenine through indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO). Increased immune activation has long been associated with symptoms of depression and has been shown to upregulate the expression of IDO. The presence of additional IDO directs more tryptophan down the kynurenine pathway, leaving less available for synthesis of serotonin and its metabolites. Kynurenine can be metabolized through a series of enzymes to quinolinic acid, a potent N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor agonist with demonstrated neurotoxic effects. We tested the hypothesis that IDO plays a role in outcome of treatment with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, citalopram. Patients consisted of 1953 participants enrolled in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression study (STAR*D). Genotypes corresponding to 94 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the genes IDO1 and IDO2, which encode IDO and IDO2, were extracted from a larger genome-wide set and analyzed using single marker tests to look for association with previously defined response, remission and QIDS-C score change phenotypes, with adequate correction for racial stratification and multiple testing. One SNP, rs2929115, showed evidence of association with citalopram response (OR = 0.64, p = 0.0005) after experiment-wide correction for multiple testing. Another closely associated marker, rs2929116 (OR = 0.64, p = 0.0006) had an experiment-wide significant result. Both implicated SNPs are located between 26 kb and 28 kb downstream of IDO2. We conclude that common genetic variation in IDO1 and IDO2 may play a role in antidepressant treatment outcome. These results are modest in a genome-wide context and need to be replicated in an independent sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-367
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • 3-dioxygenase
  • IDO
  • IDO1
  • IDO2
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • depressive disorder
  • indoleamine-pyrrole 2
  • treatment outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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