Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry

Converging translational evidence for the involvement of the serotonin 2A receptor gene in major depressive disorder.

PMID 24801750


An association between serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR), encoded by HTR2A gene, and major depressive disorder (MDD) has been suggested. Here, we combined preclinical and ecological clinical approaches to explore the impact of impaired 5-HT2AR-mediated transmission on MDD or anxio-depressive-like phenotype in mice. Htr2a knock-out mice (Htr2a(-/-)) and wild-type mice were compared for the ability of chronic corticosterone to elicit some anxio-depressive-like phenotype in three behavioral paradigms (elevated plus maze, tail suspension test and splash test). Accordingly, two single nucleotide polymorphisms of the HTR2A gene (rs6314 ie His452Tyr and rs6313 ie 102C/T), which specific allelic variants may decrease 5-HT2AR-mediated transmission (as in Htr2a(-/-)mice), were studied in a sample of 485 Caucasian patients with MDD. In response to chronic corticosterone exposure, Htr2a(-/-) mice displayed more pronounced anxiodepressive-like phenotype than wild-type mice, as shown by a significant higher "emotionality score" (p<0.01). In patients, the C allele of rs6313 was more frequent in depressed patients (p=0.019) and was also associated with a more severe major depressive episode (p=0.03). This translational and ecological study involving constitutive Htr2a(-/-) knock-out mice and related SNPs in depressed patients suggests that a lower neurotransmission at the 5-HT2AR may favor the susceptibility and severity of MDE. It also suggests that specific allelic variants of the rs6313 and rs6314 may reduce 5-HT2AR-mediated transmission.