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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The serotonin transporter gene polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) and irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of 25 studies

Zhi-Feng Zhang1, Zhi-Jun Duan1*, Li-Xia Wang1, Dong Yang1, Gang Zhao1 and Lin Zhang2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gastroenterology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Dalian Medical University, 116000 Dalian, Liaoning province, China

2 Department of Respiratory Diseases, The First Affiliated Hospital of Dalian Medical University, 116000 Dalian, Liaoning province, China

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BMC Gastroenterology 2014, 14:23  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-14-23

Published: 10 February 2014

Abstract

Background

The results of previous studies assessing the association between the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism of serotonin transporter gene and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are inconsistent. The aim of this study was to clarify the association between the 5-HTTLPR mutation and the presence of IBS and its subtypes with a meta-analysis of 25 studies.

Methods

A thorough search for case–control studies evaluating the association between the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism of serotonin transporter gene and the presence of IBS was carried out in four electronic databases. A meta-analysis was performed in accordance with the Cochrane Handbook for systemic reviews.

Results

A total of 25 articles with 3443 IBS cases and 3359 controls were included into our meta-analysis. No significant association was found between this polymorphism and IBS in all populations. Whereas the LL genotype was demonstrated to be a risk factor for constipation predominant IBS (IBS-C) development in the overall population (LL vs SS: OR = 1.570, 95% CI = 1.147-2.148, P = 0.005, Bon = 0.030; LL vs LS: OR = 1.658, 95% CI = 1.180-2.331, P = 0.004, Bon = 0.024; LL vs LS/SS: OR = 1.545, 95% CI = 1.187-2.012, P = 0.001, Bon = 0.006). In the analysis of different ethnicities, L allele and LL genotype were significantly associated with increased IBS-C risk in the East Asian population (L vs S: OR = 1.487, 95% CI = 1.139-1.941, P = 0.003, Bon = 0.018; LL vs SS: OR = 2.575, 95% CI = 1.741-3.808, P = 0.000, Bon = 0.000; LL vs LS: OR = 3.084, 95% CI = 2.017-4.715, P = 0.000, Bon = 0.000; LL vs LS/SS: OR = 2.759, 95% CI = 1.933-3.938, P = 0.000, Bon = 0.000), but not in the Caucasian population.

Conclusions

Different from the conclusions of the earlier meta-analyses, the 5-HTTLPR mutation affects IBS-C but not IBS-D and IBS-M development and this effect only exists in the East Asian population but not other populations.