• schizophrenia;
  • bipolar disorder;
  • unipolar disorder;
  • depression;
  • gene;
  • association;
  • meta-analysis;
  • serotonin transporter gene


Family, twin, and adoption studies show that psychiatric diseases including bipolar disorder (BP) and unipolar disorder (UP) have a substantial genetic component. For these illnesses, both positive and negative associations have been reported for two polymorphisms located in the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTT) on chromosome 17: a 17-base-pair (bp) variable-number tandem-repeat (VNTR) in intron 2 and a 44-bp insertion/deletion in the promoter region. Thus, associations between these 5-HTT polymorphisms and affective disorders remain unclear. The present work investigates these potential associations in meta-analyzes that maximize the power to find associations between each disease and the two 5-HTT polymorphisms. We applied meta-analysis techniques to case-control studies of two 5-HTT polymorphisms and two affective disorders (BP and UP), resulting in four meta-analyzes. For each polymorphism, we assessed the evidence for allelic associations, heterogeneity among studies, the influence of individual studies, and the potential for publication bias. The short allele(s) of the 44-bp insertion/deletion polymorphism showed a significant association for BP (odds ratio (OR) = 1.13, P = 0.001) but not UP. For the 17-bp VNTR, an increase in the number of tandem repeats had no significant association with any of the disorders. The small but significant effects of the 44-bp insertion/deletion polymorphism for BP is consistent with being one of many genes that contributes to the multi-factorial nature of these psychiatric disorders. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.