Genes linked to suicidal thoughts with anti-depressant


Two gene variations appear frequently in depressed patients who contemplate killing themselves during treatment with a common antidepressant medication, a new study finds.

In the study, reports of suicidal thoughts occurred from 2 to 15 times as often in antidepressant-treated patients with the key gene variations as in patients without them, say psychiatrist Gonzalo Laje of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., and his colleagues. Participants received citalopram, a widely prescribed antidepressant related to medications such as fluoxetine (Prozac).

The study identifies two crucial genes that contribute to the formation of cell receptors for glutamate, a chemical messenger in the brain that has been implicated in antidepressant effects. Variants of these genes apparently promote suicidal thinking only in depressed people taking antidepressants, the researchers conclude in the October American Journal of Psychiatry.

The researchers took samples of patients' blood and examined variations in the genetic code at 768 sites on 68 genes that possibly contribute to depression.

Further research may also yield a genetic test for the likelihood of antidepressant-treatment success, Weissman says. Only 25 percent of patients in Laje's study who developed suicidal thoughts recovered from depression while taking medication, compared with 42 percent of patients who reported no such thoughts.

Dangerous DNA: Genes linked to suicidal thoughts with med use: Science News Online, Oct. 6, 2007

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