Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Countering brain chemical could prevent suicides, research suggests

Date:
December 14, 2012
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Researchers have found the first proof that a chemical in the brain called glutamate is linked to suicidal behavior, offering new hope for efforts to prevent people from taking their own lives.

MSU experimental psychiatry professor Lena Brundin studies biological causes of suicidal behavior in order to find new ways to save lives.
Credit: Image courtesy of Michigan State University

Researchers have found the first proof that a chemical in the brain called glutamate is linked to suicidal behavior, offering new hope for efforts to prevent people from taking their own lives.

Writing in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, Michigan State University's Lena Brundin and an international team of co-investigators present the first evidence that glutamate is more active in the brains of people who attempt suicide. Glutamate is an amino acid that sends signals between nerve cells and has long been a suspect in the search for chemical causes of depression.

"The findings are important because they show a mechanism of disease in patients," said Brundin, an associate professor of experimental psychiatry in MSU's College of Human Medicine. "There's been a lot of focus on another neurotransmitter called serotonin for about 40 years now. The conclusion from our paper is that we need to turn some of that focus to glutamate."

Brundin and colleagues examined glutamate activity by measuring quinolinic acid -- which flips a chemical switch that makes glutamate send more signals to nearby cells -- in the spinal fluid of 100 patients in Sweden. About two-thirds of the participants were admitted to a hospital after attempting suicide and the rest were healthy.

They found that suicide attempters had more than twice as much quinolinic acid in their spinal fluid as the healthy people, which indicated increased glutamate signaling between nerve cells. Those who reported the strongest desire to kill themselves also had the highest levels of the acid.

The results also showed decreased quinolinic acid levels among a subset of patients who came back six months later, when their suicidal behavior had ended.

The findings explain why earlier research has pointed to inflammation in the brain as a risk factor for suicide. The body produces quinolinic acid as part of the immune response that creates inflammation.

Brundin said anti-glutamate drugs are still in development, but could soon offer a promising tool for preventing suicide. In fact, recent clinical studies have shown the anesthetic ketamine -- which inhibits glutamate signaling -- to be extremely effective in fighting depression, though its side effects prevent it from being used widely today.

In the meantime, Brundin said physicians should be aware of inflammation as a likely trigger for suicidal behavior. She is partnering with doctors in Grand Rapids, Mich., to design clinical trials using anti-inflammatory drugs.

"In the future, it's likely that blood samples from suicidal and depressive patients will be screened for inflammation," Brundin said. "It is important that primary health care physicians and psychiatrists work closely together on this."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sophie Erhardt, Chai K Lim, Klas R Linderholm, Shorena Janelidze, Daniel Lindqvist, Martin Samuelsson, Kristina Lundberg, Teodor T Postolache, Lil Trδskman-Bendz, Gilles J Guillemin, and Lena Brundin. Connecting Inflammation with Glutamate Agonism in Suicidality. Neuropsychopharmacology, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/npp.2012.248

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Countering brain chemical could prevent suicides, research suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121214091614.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2012, December 14). Countering brain chemical could prevent suicides, research suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121214091614.htm
Michigan State University. "Countering brain chemical could prevent suicides, research suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121214091614.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — A new study found fewer deaths from prescription drug overdoses in states that have legalized medical marijuana. But experts disagree on the results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heart Group: E-Cigarettes May Help Smokers Quit

Heart Group: E-Cigarettes May Help Smokers Quit

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) — The American Heart Association's first policy statement on electronic cigarettes backs them as a last resort to help smokers quit and calls for more regulation to keep them away from youth. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Push For Later Start Times As School Year Kicks Off

Doctors Push For Later Start Times As School Year Kicks Off

Newsy (Aug. 25, 2014) — The American Academy of Pediatrics is the latest group pushing for middle schools and high schools to start later, for the sake of their kids. 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