Gene mutations linked to suicide risk among depressed patients identified

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Washington, Feb 2 (ANI): A new study has led to the discovery of certain genetic mutations that appear to be associated with the risk of attempting suicide among individuals with depression.

The mutations were involved in nerve cell formation and growth.

Patients with psychiatric disorders are more likely to attempt suicide, and those with depression or other mood disorders are at higher risk.

"Twin and family studies suggest that suicide and suicide attempts are heritable traits and likely part of the same phenotype, with completed suicide and suicide attempts clustering in the same families," the authors write.

"The genetic risk factors for suicide appear to be independent from the underlying psychiatric disorder," they added.

Lead researcher Martin A. Kohli, Ph.D., then of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany, and now of the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, Miami investigated genetic variants among 394 depressed patients, including 113 who had attempted suicide, and 366 matched healthy control participants.

They investigated single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, or variants in a single base pair along a strand of DNA) in two genes associated with the neurotrophic system (which produces proteins involved in nerve cell growth).

Five SNPs appeared significantly more common among individuals with a history of suicide attempts.

Carriers of the three most significant markers had a 4.5-fold higher risk of attempting suicide than those who carried none of the three mutations.

"The facts that the genetic associations with suicide attempts were stronger when comparing depressed patients with suicide attempts vs. depressed patients without suicide attempts than with healthy control subjects and that these SNPs were not associated with major depressive disorder suggest that these associations are specific to suicide attempts" and not linked to depression in general, the authors added.

The study appears in Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. (ANI)

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