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Physiol Behav. 2007 Sep 10;92(1-2):245-9. Epub 2007 May 25.

Nature and nurture in suicidal behavior, the role of genetics: some novel findings concerning personality traits and neural conduction.

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  • 1Karolinska Institutet, The National and the Stockholm County Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of Mental Ill-Health (NASP) at the Department of Public Health Sciences, Box 230, S-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden. Danuta.Wasserman@ki.se

Abstract

Suicide affects about one million people each year, a phenomenon characterized by heterogeneous and complex causes. Often environmental factors such as negative life events may act as a significant contributor to suicidal behavior. However, in many cases the exposure to the same environmental stress does not result in increased suicidality. It is now well established that there is also a substantial genetic contribution to suicidal behavior. Here, functional and association studies which implicate specific genes in psychological traits and environmental factors are discussed, interactions which are related to completed suicide or suicide attempt, and our novel findings which need replication are presented. We found that genetic variation in the noradrenergic tyrosine hydroxylase gene was associated with the angry/hostility personality trait and vulnerability to stress. Similarly, we recently discovered that genetic variation in components of the stress-related hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical axis, T-box 19 and corticotropin releasing hormone receptor 1, showed association and linkage to high anger/hostility in and male depression the suicidal offspring, respectively. Further results from our studies have revealed that genetic variation in genes with roles in basal mechanisms of neural conduction, voltage-gated sodium channel type VIII alpha and vesicle-associated membrane 4 protein, showed association and linkage among suicide attempters. Additionally, we have results which give support to the findings of others, implicating the serotonin transporter and serotonin receptor 1A in suicidal behavior. Our future studies aim at identifying and resolving complex patterns and mechanisms of neurobiological gene-environment interactions, which may contribute to suicide.

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