Background: Disturbances in serotonin neurotransmission are implicated in the etiology of many psychiatric disorders, including bipolar affective disorder (BPD). The tryptophan hydroxylase gene (TPH), which codes for the enzyme catalyzing the rate-limiting step in serotonin biosynthetic pathway, is one of the leading candidate genes for psychiatric and behavioral disorders. In a preliminary study, we found that TPH1 intron7 A218C polymorphism was associated with BPD. This study was designed to investigate sequence variants of the TPH1 gene in Taiwanese and to test whether the TPH1 gene is a susceptibility factor for the BPD. Methods: Using a systematic approach, we have searched the exons and promoter region of the TPH1 gene for sequence variants in Taiwanese Han and have identified five variants, A-1067G, G-347T, T3804A, C27224T, and A27237G. These five variants plus another five taken from the literature and a public database were examined for an association in 108 BPD patients and 103 controls; no association was detected for any of the 10 variants. Results: Haplotype constructions using these 10 SNPs showed that the 3 most common haplotypes in both patients and controls were identical. One of the fourth common haplotype in the patient group (i.e. GGGAGACCCA) was unique and showed a trend of significance with the disease (P = 0.028). However, the significance was abolished after Bonferroni correction thus suggesting the association is weak. In addition, three haplotype-tagged SNPs (htSNPs) were selected to represent all haplotypes with frequencies larger than 2% in the Taiwanese Han population. The defined TPH1 htSNPs significantly reduce the marker number for haplotype analysis thus provides useful information for future association studies in our population. Conclusion: Results of this study did not support the role of TPH1 gene in BPD etiology. As the current studies found the TPH1 gene under investigation belongs to the peripheral serotonin system and may link to a cardiac dysfunction phenotype, a second TPH gene that functions predominantly in the brain (i.e., nTPH or TPH2) should be the target for the future association study.
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