Navigation Links
Countering brain chemical could prevent suicides

EAST LANSING, Mich. --- Researchers have found the first proof that a chemical in the brain called glutamate is linked to suicidal behavior, offering new hope for efforts to prevent people from taking their own lives.

Writing in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, Michigan State University's Lena Brundin and an international team of co-investigators present the first evidence that glutamate is more active in the brains of people who attempt suicide. Glutamate is an amino acid that sends signals between nerve cells and has long been a suspect in the search for chemical causes of depression.

"The findings are important because they show a mechanism of disease in patients," said Brundin, an associate professor of experimental psychiatry in MSU's College of Human Medicine. "There's been a lot of focus on another neurotransmitter called serotonin for about 40 years now. The conclusion from our paper is that we need to turn some of that focus to glutamate."

Brundin and colleagues examined glutamate activity by measuring quinolinic acid -- which flips a chemical switch that makes glutamate send more signals to nearby cells -- in the spinal fluid of 100 patients in Sweden. About two-thirds of the participants were admitted to a hospital after attempting suicide and the rest were healthy.

They found that suicide attempters had more than twice as much quinolinic acid in their spinal fluid as the healthy people, which indicated increased glutamate signaling between nerve cells. Those who reported the strongest desire to kill themselves also had the highest levels of the acid.

The results also showed decreased quinolinic acid levels among a subset of patients who came back six months later, when their suicidal behavior had ended.

The findings explain why earlier research has pointed to inflammation in the brain as a risk factor for suicide. The body produces quinolinic acid as part of the immune response that creates inflammation.

Brundin said anti-glutamate drugs are still in development, but could soon offer a promising tool for preventing suicide. In fact, recent clinical studies have shown the anesthetic ketamine -- which inhibits glutamate signaling -- to be extremely effective in fighting depression, though its side effects prevent it from being used widely today.

In the meantime, Brundin said physicians should be aware of inflammation as a likely trigger for suicidal behavior. She is partnering with doctors in Grand Rapids, Mich., to design clinical trials using anti-inflammatory drugs.

"In the future, it's likely that blood samples from suicidal and depressive patients will be screened for inflammation," Brundin said. "It is important that primary health care physicians and psychiatrists work closely together on this."


Contact: Andy McGlashen
Michigan State University

Related biology news :

1. MicroRNA-218 targets medulloblastoma, most aggressive childhood brain cancer
2. Pan-European organizations call for an advanced understanding of the human brain
3. Does the brain become unglued in autism?
4. How the common cat parasite gets into the brain
5. Research shows immune system response is detrimental to novel brain cancer therapy
6. Musical duets lock brains as well as rhythms
7. Double duty: Immune system regulator found to protect brain from effects of stroke
8. University of Maryland School of Medicine, NIH study pinpoints brain areas role in learning
9. Multiple sclerosis immune exchange between brain and blood is uncovered
10. A 3-D light switch for the brain
11. Neurons made from stem cells drive brain activity after transplantation in laboratory model
Post Your Comments:
(Date:3/31/2016)... 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys has completed a financial ... Bready , M.D., who returned to the company in ... leadership team, including Chief Technology Officer, John Oliver ... Nurnberg and Vice President of Software and Informatics, ... Dr. Bready served as CEO of Nabsys from ...
(Date:3/23/2016)... Massachusetts , March 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... im Interesse erhöhter Sicherheit Gesichts- und Stimmerkennung ... Xura, Inc. (NASDAQ: MESG ), ... bekannt, dass das Unternehmen mit SpeechPro zusammenarbeitet, ... aus der Finanzdienstleistungsbranche, wird die Möglichkeit angeboten, ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... , PROVO and ... -- Newborn Screening Ontario (NSO), which operates the highest ... for molecular testing, and Tute Genomics and UNIConnect, leaders ... technology respectively, today announced the launch of a project ... sequencing (NGS) testing panel. NSO has ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - BIOREM Inc. (TSX-V: BRM) ... advised by its major shareholders, Clean Technology Fund I, ... United States based venture capital funds which ... Biorem (on a fully diluted, as converted basis), that ... of their entire equity holdings in Biorem to TUS ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... ... Parallel 6 , the leading software as a service (SaaS) provider ... Patient Encounter CONSULT module which enables both audio and video telemedicine communication between the ... the CONSULT module, patients and physicians can schedule a face to face virtual patient ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... -- Liquid Biotech USA , Inc. ... Research Agreement with The University of Pennsylvania ("PENN") ... patients.  The funding will be used to assess ... outcomes in cancer patients undergoing a variety of ... to support the design of a therapeutic, decision-making ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Epic Sciences ... detects cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors by targeting ... cells (CTCs). The new test has already been ... in multiple cancer types. Over 230 ... damage response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK ...
Breaking Biology Technology: