Blood biomarkers for detecting Suicidal Intentions


“We cannot tear out a single page of our life, but we can throw the whole book in the fire.”
– George Sand

Suicides are the tenth largest killers globally. More people kill themselves annually than are murdered. A lot many people attempt unsuccessfully. Depression is the most common cause and the only (subjective) indicator. The greatest risk is the fact that unlike other illnesses, people contemplating suicides do not tell anyone for obvious reasons. If we could predict suicidal intention clinically, it would be a major achievement. A communication published in Nature Molecular Psychiatry might be the first steps in the direction.

A group from Indianapolis claims to have identified blood biomarkers related to suicidality. The subjects picked suffered from bipolar disorder. Intra-subject and inter-subject comparisons were made to categorize individuals from low to high suicidal ideation (SI) states. Differential gene expression data of blood-based biomarkers was analyzed to identify biomarkers which varied significantly and in direct correlation to suicidal ideation. The major biomarkers identified include SAT1 (spermidine/spermine N1–acetyltransferase 1), phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), myristoylated alanine-rich protein kinase C substrate (MARCKS), and mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase 3 (MAP3K3). They showed that the expression levels of these markers coupled with anxiety levels could be utilised to predict the risk of a patient attempting suicide.

The team also suggests that suicidal ideation can be understood best by the biological mechanisms underlying stress, inflammation and apoptosis. Seems an individual’s suicide is not much different than any of his cells’ !!

Read the full article here
Levey, Shankar, Duckworth et al; Discovery and validation of blood biomarkers for suicidality; 20th August, 2013;  doi: 10.1038/mp.2013.95

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