Journal club online: Therapygenetics, a study of neurotrophic polymorphisms and response to psychological therapy

A paper just out in Translational Psychiatry by Lester and collegues exemplifies the ideas of the novel field of therapygenetics – how individual genetic variation impacts psychological treatment response.

In this study, 374 anxiety-disordered children who had completed a standardized cognitive behaviour therapy, were genotyped for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the nerve growth factor (NGF) (rs6330), brain-derived neurotrophic factory (BDNF) (rs6265) and in the serotonin transporter (5-HTTLPR) gene. These genes are considered important in synaptic plasticity and response to stress, and are expressed in areas in the brain responsible for fear and mood regulation.

Primary outcome measure was simply whether or not the participant fulfilled the anxiety diagnosis criteria post treatment. Treatment response was assessed immediately after treatment and at follow-ups. Lester and colleagues found that participants with one or more copies of the t-allele of NGF rs6330 were significantly more likely to be free of their diagnosis at follow-up. No interactional effect was observed between BDNF rs6265 or the 5-HTTLPR and treatment response. However, the 5-HTLLPR had a significant main effect as a predictor for treatment prognosis.

The authors reason that tyhe findings on NGF could be beneficial in helping to decide whether a child is likely to benefit from standard CBT or if further interventions should be considered.

Lester KJ, Hudson JL, Tropeano M, Creswell C, Collier DA, Farmer A, Lyneham HJ, Rapee RM, Eley TC. Neurotrophic gene polymorphisms and response to psychological therapy. Transl Psychiatry. 2012 May 1;2:e108.


 For more on this topic, read: