Ethnicity and pharmacogenetics.


Ethnic differences in pharmacological response have been recognized for a long time. New research methodologies in the field of pharmacogenetics have begun to provide us with important insights concerning the biological mechanisms that underlie this differential response. The emerging data have highlighted the central role of genetic factors in the metabolism, and perhaps plasma protein binding, of many of the psychotropic agents used today. Ethnic differences in these genetic factors may explain in large measure why patients from ethnic minorities respond differently than Caucasians when given psycho tropic medications. However, it is clear that as for psychiatry in general, the role of the environment in these genetic factors must be understood when considering psychopharmacological response in particular. The utility and possible application of these research methodologies in the clinical setting is still undetermined; these data must be pursued. The information concerning the relative efficiency of the drug-metabolizing enzymes which is made available through genotyping and phenotyping methodologies could be used by clinicians who provide psychopharmacotherapeutic services to patients from diverse ethnic backgrounds.


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