Vol. 7, No. 4, 2001 Page 5

Serotonin gene variant linked to violent suicide

Low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are strongly linked to depression, impulsivity, and violent suicide. Investigating this link, many researchers are focusing in particular on whether short and long variants of the serotonin transporter gene play a role in behavioral disorders by affecting the amount of serotonin taken up by cells.

In a recent study, French researchers compared 51 subjects with a history of violent suicide attempts to 139 controls with no history of suicidal behavior. The researchers report that suicide attempters exhibited a much higher frequency of the S (one short allele) or SS (two short alleles) genotype than did controls. "The odds ratio for the SS genotype vs. the LL (two long alleles) genotype was 3.63," they say. "This suggests that a change in expression of the gene encoding the [serotonin] transporter may be involved in violent suicidal behavior."


"Association between violent suicidal behavior and the low activity allele of the serotonin transporter gene," P. Courtet, P. Baud, M. Abbar, J. P. Boulenger, D. Castelnau, D. Mouthon, A. Malafosse, and C. Buresi, Molecular Psychiatry, Vol. 6, No. 3, May 2001, 338-41. Address: P. Courtet, Department of Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry, Lapeyronie Hospital, INSERM E99-30, Montpelier, France, courtet@aol.com.

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