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1.  Gender-Specific Association of Galanin Polymorphisms with HPA-Axis Dysregulation, Symptom Severity, and Antidepressant Treatment Response 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2010;35(7):1583-1592.
Galanin (GAL) is an estrogen-inducible neuropeptide, highly expressed in brain regions reported to be involved in regulation of mood and anxiety. GAL possibly has a direct modulatory effect on hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA)-axis regulation. Recent data from pharmacological and genetic studies indicate a significant function of GAL in stress-related disorders. By using a tag SNP approach covering the locus encoding preprogalanin (PPGAL), earlier findings of female-specific associations of polymorphisms in this locus with panic disorder were expanded to a larger sample of 268 outpatients with anxiety disorders (ADs). Within a larger sample of 541 inpatients with major depressive disorder (MDD), we then tested associations of one PPGAL tag SNP with specific depression symptom clusters and HPA-axis activity assessed by the combined dexamethasone-suppression/CRH-stimulation test both at inpatient admission and discharge (n=298). Gender specificity as well as dependence of the association on levels of circulating estrogens was analyzed. Genotyping revealed high linkage disequilibrium in the promoter area of the PPGAL gene, which includes several estrogen-response elements. Confirming earlier results, rs948854, tagging this promoter region, was associated with more severe anxiety pathology in female AD patients, but not in males. In premenopausal female MDD patients, the same allele of rs948854 was associated with more severe vegetative but not cognitive depressive symptoms at discharge and worse treatment response on antidepressant medication. Furthermore, this allele was associated with higher HPA-axis activity at admission. No significant case–control associations could be observed. However, because of power limitations of both patient samples, small effects cannot be excluded. The reported associations in independent samples of AD and MDD support an estrogen-dependent function of GAL in pathophysiology of anxiety and depression, affecting response to antidepressant treatment.
PMCID: PMC3055457  PMID: 20237460
galanin; association; genetics; anxiety; depression; response; Anxiety; association; Depression; Unipolar/Bipolar; estrogen; galanin; genetics; Mood/Anxiety/Stress Disorders; Neuroendocrinology; Pharmacogenetics/Pharmacogenomics; response
2.  Polymorphisms in GRIK4, HTR2A, and FKBP5 Show Interactive Effects in Predicting Remission to Antidepressant Treatment 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2009;35(3):727-740.
Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the FKBP5, GRIK4, and HTR2A genes have been shown to be associated with response to citalopram treatment in the STAR*D sample, but only associations with FKBP5 have so far been tested in the Munich Antidepressant Response Signature (MARS) project. Response and remission of depressive symptoms after 5 weeks of antidepressant treatment were tested against 82 GRIK4 and 37 HTR2A SNPs. Association analysis was conducted in about 300 depressed patients from the MARS project, 10% of whom had bipolar disorder. The most predictive SNPs from these two genes and rs1360780 in FKBP5 were then genotyped in a total of 387 German depressed in-patients to analyze potential additive and interactive effects of these variants. We could not replicate previous findings of the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study in our sample. Although not statistically significant, the effect for the best GRIK4 SNP of STAR*D (rs1954787, p=0.076, pcorrected=0.98) seemed to be in the same direction. On the other hand, the nominally significant association with the top HTR2A SNPs of STAR*D (rs7997012, allelic, p=0.043, pcorrected=0.62) was with the opposite risk allele. The GRIK4 SNP (rs12800734, genotypic, p=0.0019, pcorrected=0.12) and the HTR2A SNP (rs17288723, genotypic, p=0.0011, pcorrected=0.02), which showed the strongest association with remission in our sample, had not been reported previously. Associations across all genetic markers within the GRIK4 (genotypic, p=0.022) or HTR2A (genotypic, p=0.012) locus using the Fisher's product method (FPM) were also significant. In all 374 patients, the best predictive model included a main effect for GRIK4 rs12800734 and two significant interactions between GRIK4 rs12800734 and FKBP5 rs1360780, and GRIK4 rs12800734 and HTR2A rs17288723. This three SNP model explained 13.1% of the variance for remission after 5 weeks (p=0.00051 for the model). Analyzing a sub-sample of 194 patients, plasma ACTH (p=0.002) and cortisol (p=0.021) responses of rs12800734 GG (GRIK4) carriers, who also showed favorable treatment response, were significantly lower in the second combined dexamethasone (dex)/corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) test before discharge compared with the other two genotype groups. Despite large differences in ethnicity and design compared with the STAR*D study, our results from the MARS study further support both independent and interactive involvement of GRIK4, HTR2A and FKBP5 in antidepressant treatment response.
PMCID: PMC3055621  PMID: 19924111
GRIK4; HTR2A; FKBP5; interaction; antidepressant treatment response; affective disorder; Pharmacogenetics/Pharmacogenomics; Depression; Unipolar/Bipolar; Glutamate; Serotonin; GRIK4; HTR2A; FKBP5; pharmacogenetic; antidepressant treatment response
3.  Evidence for STAT4 as a Common Autoimmune Gene: rs7574865 Is Associated with Colonic Crohn's Disease and Early Disease Onset 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10373.
Recent studies demonstrated an association of STAT4 variants with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), indicating that multiple autoimmune diseases share common susceptibility genes. We therefore investigated the influence of STAT4 variants on the susceptibility and phenotype of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in a large patient and control cohort.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Genomic DNA from 2704 individuals of Caucasian origin including 857 patients with Crohn's disease (CD), 464 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), and 1383 healthy, unrelated controls was analyzed for seven SNPs in the STAT4 gene (rs11889341, rs7574865, rs7568275, rs8179673, rs10181656, rs7582694, rs10174238). In addition, a detailed genotype-phenotype analysis was performed. Our analysis revealed an association of the STAT4 SNP rs7574865 with overall decreased susceptibility to CD (p = 0.047, OR 0.86 [95% CI 0.74–0.99]). However, compared to CD patients carrying the wild type genotype, the STAT4 SNP rs7574865 was significantly associated with early CD onset (p = 0.021) and colonic CD (p = 0.008; OR = 4.60, 95% CI 1.63–12.96). For two other STAT4 variants, there was a trend towards protection against CD susceptibility (rs7568275, p = 0.058, OR 0.86 [95% CI 0.74–1.00]; rs10174238, p = 0.057, OR 0.86 [95% CI 0.75–1.00]). In contrast, we did not observe any association with UC susceptibility. Evidence for weak gene-gene interaction of STAT4 with the IL23R SNP rs11209026 was lost after Bonferroni correction.
Our results identified the STAT4 SNP rs7574865 as a disease-modifying gene variant in colonic CD. However, in contrast to SLE and RA, the effect of rs7574865 on CD susceptibility is only weak.
PMCID: PMC2861592  PMID: 20454450

Results 1-3 (3)