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Am J Psychiatry. 1999 Sep;156(9):1456-8.

Prediction of level of serotonin 2A receptor binding by serotonin receptor 2A genetic variation in postmortem brain samples from subjects who did or did not commit suicide.

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  • 1Centre for Research in Neuroscience, Montreal General Hospital, McGill University, Canada.



Postmortem studies have indicated that suicide victims have greater serotonin receptor 2A (5-HTR2A) binding in prefrontal brain regions. However, there remains some controversy regarding the biological specificity of these findings. The authors hypothesized that the variance observed in brain 5-HTR2A binding is genetically mediated, at least in part.


Postmortem data from 56 subjects who had committed suicide and 126 normal comparison subjects were studied; brain tissue was available from 11 subjects who committed suicide and 11 comparison subjects. Homogenate binding assays were carried out with [3H]ketanserin. Variation at the 5-HTR2A gene (HTR2A) was investigated by means of two polymorphisms: T102C and A-1438G.


5-HTR2A binding was greater in the prefrontal cortex of the subjects who committed suicide. In addition, the findings suggest that HTR2A variation significantly affects 5-HTR2A binding. However, no interaction between suicidal behavior and this locus was observed.


These results confirm previous reports of greater 5-HTR2A binding in subjects who committed suicide; they also provide preliminary evidence suggesting that the number of 5-HTR2A receptors is genetically mediated.

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