Focus on HTR2C: A possible suggestion for genetic studies of complex disorders

Antonio Drago, Alessandro Serretti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


HTR2C is one of the most relevant and investigated serotonin receptors. Its role in important brain structures such as the midbrain, the lateral septal complex, the hypothalamus, the olfactory bulb, the pons, the choroid plexus, the nucleus pallidus, the striatum and the amygdala, the nucleus accumbens and the anterior cingulated gyrus candidate it as a promising target for genetic association studies. The biological relevance of these brain structures is reviewed by way of the focus on HTR2C activity, with a special attention paid to psychiatric disorders. Evidence from the genetic association studies that dealt with HTR2C is reviewed and discussed alongside the findings derived from the neuronatmic investigations. The reasons for the discrepancies between these two sets of reports are discussed. As a result, HTR2C is shown to play a pivotal role in many different psychiatric behaviors or psychiatric related disrupted molecular balances, nevertheless, genetic association studies brought inconsistent results so far. The most replicated association involve the feeding behavior and antipsychotic induced side effects, both weight gain and motor related: Cys23Ser (rs6318) and 759C/T (rs3813929) report themost consistent results. The lack of association found in other independent studies dampens the clinical impact of these reports. Here, we report a possible explanation for discrepant findings that is poorly or not at all usually considered, that is that HTR2C may exert different or even opposite activities in the brain depending on the structure analyzed and that mRNA editing activity may compensate possible genetically controlled functional effects. The incomplete coverage of theHTR2Cvariants is proposed as the best costbenefit ratio bias to fix. The evidence of brain area specific HTR2C mRNA editing opens a debate about how the brain can differently modulate stress events, and process antidepressant treatments, in different brain areas. The mRNA editing activity on HTR2C may play a major role for the negative association results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-637
Number of pages37
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics - Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 5 2009


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Gene
  • HTR2C
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Schizophrenia
  • Serotonin receptor 2c
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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