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J Psychopharmacol. 2010 May;24(5):677-82. doi: 10.1177/0269881108097817. Epub 2008 Oct 6.

Association of HPA axis genes with suicidal behaviour in schizophrenia.

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  • 1Neurogenetics Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Family, adoption and twin studies show that genetics influences suicidal behaviour, but do not indicate specific susceptibility variants. Stress response is thought to be mediated by the corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), which is known to be a regulator of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal pathway (HPA). Alterations in HPA system have been related to impulsivity, aggression and suicidal behaviour, common feature in schizophrenia. CRH is the hypothalamic factor that stimulates the pituitary gland. To search for markers conferring genetic susceptibility to suicide, we typed six HPA axis genes (CRH, CRHR1, CRHR2, CRHBP, MC2R, NC3R1) in a cohort of 231 subjects with schizophrenia in which 81 attempted suicide. The genotype analyses yielded significant association between CRH binding protein (CRHBP) and suicide attempt (P = 0.035). The genotype analysis for quantitative measures of suicidal behaviour showed no association. The interaction analysis showed a significant interaction between CRH receptor type 1 (CRHR1) and CRH binding protein (CRHBP) in influencing suicide attempt and the severity of suicidal behaviour. Current results show that genetic variation in HPA axis genes could be associated with suicidal behaviour in schizophrenia. This is to our knowledge the first study on suicidal behaviour investigating the interaction among the HPA axis genes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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