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Abstract Background Variation within the CYP2C19 gene has been linked to differential metabolism of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Pharmacogenetic recommendations based on the effect of CYP2C19 variants have been made available and are used increasingly by clinical practitioners. Nonetheless, the underlying assumption linking differential metabolism to efficacy or adverse side effects remains understudied. Here, we aim to fill this gap by studying CYP2C19 polymorphisms and inferred metabolism and patient-reported antidepressant response in a sample of 9531 Australian adults who have taken SSRIs. Methods Metaboliser status was inferred for participants based on CYP2C19 alleles. Primary analysis consisted of assessing differences in treatment efficacy and tolerability between normal (reference) and: ultrarapid, rapid, intermediate and poor metabolisers. Results Across medications, poor metabolisers reported a higher efficacy, whereas rapid metabolisers reported higher tolerability. When stratified by drug, associations between metaboliser status and efficacy did not survive multiple testing correction. Intermediate metabolisers were at greater odds of reporting any side effect for sertraline and higher number of side effects across medications and for sertraline. Conclusions The effects between metaboliser status and treatment efficacy, tolerability and side effects were in the expected direction. Our power analysis suggests we would detect moderate to large effects, at least nominally. Reduced power may also be explained by heterogeneity in antidepressant dosages or concomitant medications, which we did not measure. The fact that we identify slower metabolisers to be at higher risk of side effects even without adjusting for clinical titration, and the nominally significant associations consistent with the expected metabolic effects provide new evidence for the link between CYP2C19 metabolism and SSRI response. Nonetheless, longitudinal and interventional designs such as randomized clinical trials that stratify by metaboliser status are necessary to establish the effects of CYP2C19 metabolism on SSRI treatment efficacy or adverse effects.

Original publication




Journal article


The Pharmacogenomics Journal


Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication Date





130 - 135