Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Links Attempted Suicide With Genetic Evidence Identified In Previous Suicide Research

Date:
March 3, 2007
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
A Johns Hopkins-led study has found evidence that a genetic tendency toward suicide has been linked to a particular area of the genome on chromosome 2 that has been implicated in two additional recent studies of attempted suicide.

A Johns Hopkins-led study has found evidence that a genetic tendency toward suicide has been linked to a particular area of the genome on chromosome 2 that has been implicated in two additional recent studies of attempted suicide.

"We're hoping our findings will eventually lead to tests that can identify those at high risk for attempting suicide," says Virginia Willour, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and lead author of the study. An estimated 4.6 percent of Americans ages 15 to 54 have tried to take their lives, according to Willour.

The investigators conducted a family linkage study in which they searched for commonalities in the genomes of family members with bipolar disorder and a history of attempted suicide. The same gene region on chromosome 2 that was identified by this bipolar disorder and attempted suicide study was recently identified by two complementary family studies that looked at attempted suicide in families with major depression and alcohol dependence.

"Family linkage studies are not always consistent, so the fact that all three studies, including ours, point to the same region of the genome is a good indication that we are on the right track toward identifying a gene or genes that play a role in why a person chooses to take his or her own life," says Willour.

In the multi-institutional study, results of which appear in the March issue of Biological Psychiatry, the researchers examined data from 162 families with bipolar disorder. They looked at attempted suicide in this sample because it is an important clinical problem that tends to occur more often in some of these families than in others, suggesting a distinctive genetic basis, according to senior author James B. Potash, M.D., M.P.H., of the Department of Psychiatry at Hopkins. This technique, of looking at sub-types of illness, is used by genetic researchers as a way to reduce genetic complexity.

From the 162 families, the researchers selected 417 subjects who were diagnosed with schizoaffective/bipolar disorder, bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder.

These subjects were asked whether they had ever attempted suicide and the degree of intent of the most serious attempt. One hundred fifty-four subjects said they had attempted suicide, and 122 stated that they had "definite" intent. For the purpose of this study, the latter were considered to have a history of attempted suicide.

Data for all 417 subjects was entered into a computer program that looks for genetic similarities between subjects with similar psychological profiles. Results indicated that family members with a history of attempted suicide and bipolar disorder showed a high degree of genetic similarity at a specific area -- DNA marker D2S1777 -- on a section of chromosome 2 referred to as 2p12. This is the same marker implicated in a 2004 study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine that looked at attempted suicide and major depression. And it is close to another marker, D2S1790, located in the 2p11 region of chromosome 2, which was identified in a 2004 study from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine that looked at alcoholism and attempted suicide.

Willour says that although the Hopkins-led study does not pinpoint a specific gene responsible for attempted suicide, it does suggest a "neighborhood" in which the gene might be found. She adds that the next step is to further narrow the search and find the "address." "Once we have located the specific gene," she says, "we can better identify people who might be at risk of suicide and offer drug companies a target for possible therapies."

The data used by Willour and her team -- DNA samples, medical histories and psychiatric evaluations -- came from an independent study, CHIP, conducted at the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Intramural Program. The purpose of CHIP, initiated in 1988 and funded through at least 2010, is to find genes that predispose people to developing bipolar disorder or particular subtypes of the illness.

Other Johns Hopkins researchers who contributed to this study are Peter P. Zandi, Ph.D., from the Department of Mental Health in the Bloomberg School of Public Health and J. Raymond DePaulo Jr., M.D.; Dean F. MacKinnon, M.D.; and Francis M. Mondimore, M.D., from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Additional researchers include Elliot S. Gershon, M.D., and Judith A. Badner, M.D., Ph.D., from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago; Francis J. McMahon, M.D., from the NIMH Intramural Program; and Melvin G. McInnis, M.D., from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Funding for this study came from the National Institute of Mental Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Study Links Attempted Suicide With Genetic Evidence Identified In Previous Suicide Research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070220002218.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (2007, March 3). Study Links Attempted Suicide With Genetic Evidence Identified In Previous Suicide Research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070220002218.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Study Links Attempted Suicide With Genetic Evidence Identified In Previous Suicide Research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070220002218.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study by British researchers suggests couples' sleeping positions might reflect their happiness. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins