Navigation Links
A blood test for suicide?
Date:7/29/2014

Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered a chemical alteration in a single human gene linked to stress reactions that, if confirmed in larger studies, could give doctors a simple blood test to reliably predict a person's risk of attempting suicide.

The discovery, described online in The American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that changes in a gene involved in the function of the brain's response to stress hormones plays a significant role in turning what might otherwise be an unremarkable reaction to the strain of everyday life into suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

"Suicide is a major preventable public health problem, but we have been stymied in our prevention efforts because we have no consistent way to predict those who are at increased risk of killing themselves," says study leader Zachary Kaminsky, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "With a test like ours, we may be able to stem suicide rates by identifying those people and intervening early enough to head off a catastrophe."

For his series of experiments, Kaminsky and his colleagues focused on a genetic mutation in a gene known as SKA2. By looking at brain samples from mentally ill and healthy people, the researchers found that in samples from people who had died by suicide, levels of SKA2 were significantly reduced.

Within this common mutation, they then found in some subjects an epigenetic modification that altered the way the SKA2 gene functioned without changing the gene's underlying DNA sequence. The modification added chemicals called methyl groups to the gene. Higher levels of methylation were then found in the same study subjects who had killed themselves. The higher levels of methylation among suicide decedents were then replicated in two independent brain cohorts.

In another part of the study, the researchers tested three different sets of blood samples, the largest one involving 325 participants in the Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention Research Study found similar methylation increases at SKA2 in individuals with suicidal thoughts or attempts. They then designed a model analysis that predicted which of the participants were experiencing suicidal thoughts or had attempted suicide with 80 percent certainty. Those with more severe risk of suicide were predicted with 90 percent accuracy. In the youngest data set, they were able to identify with 96 percent accuracy whether or not a participant had attempted suicide, based on blood test results.

The SKA2 gene is expressed in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is involved in inhibiting negative thoughts and controlling impulsive behavior. SKA2 is specifically responsible for chaperoning stress hormone receptors into cells' nuclei so they can do their job. If there isn't enough SKA2, or it is altered in some way, the stress hormone receptor is unable to suppress the release of cortisol throughout the brain. Previous research has shown that such cortisol release is abnormal in people who attempt or die by suicide.

Kaminsky says a test based on these findings might best be used to predict future suicide attempts in those who are ill, to restrict lethal means or methods among those a risk, or to make decisions regarding the intensity of intervention approaches.

He says that it might make sense for use in the military to test whether members have the gene mutation that makes them more vulnerable. Those at risk could be more closely monitored when they returned home after deployment. A test could also be useful in a psychiatric emergency room, he says, as part of a suicide risk assessment when doctors try to assess level of suicide risk.

The test could be used in all sorts of safety assessment decisions like the need for hospitalization and closeness of monitoring. Kaminsky says another possible use that needs more study could be to inform treatment decisions, such as whether or not to give certain medications that have been linked with suicidal thoughts.

"We have found a gene that we think could be really important for consistently identifying a range of behaviors from suicidal thoughts to attempts to completions," Kaminsky says. "We need to study this in a larger sample but we believe that we might be able to monitor the blood to identify those at risk of suicide."


'/>"/>

Contact: Lauren Nelson
lnelso35@jhmi.edu
410-955-8725
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Infection Might Raise Blood Clot Risk for Older Adults: Study
2. Normalizing tumor blood vessels improves delivery of only the smallest nanomedicines
3. Common Blood Pressure Drug Safe for Heart Failure: Study
4. Certain Birth Control Pills May Carry Higher Blood Clot Risk: FDA
5. High Blood Pressure May Be Especially Lethal for Blacks
6. Changes in gene expression may help explain high blood pressure in pregnancy
7. Researchers Develop Blood Test for Depression
8. Naturopathic care can improve blood sugar, mood in diabetes
9. Diabetes Groups Issue New Guidelines on Blood Sugar
10. Exercise May Help Patients With High Blood Pressure Live Longer
11. Additional blood pressure screening may reduce incidence of CVD events and death by up to 3 percent
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... its strategic partnership with Connance, a healthcare industry leader providing predictive analytics ... proprietary technology combine to provide health systems, hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... , ... Pixel Film Studios Released ProSlice Levels, a Media Slicing Effect ... a whole new perspective by using the title layers in ProSlice Levels to ... ProSlice Levels contains over 30 Different presets to choose from. FCPX users ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... Austin residents seeking ... American College of Mohs Surgery and to Dr. Russell Peckham for medical and surgical ... effective treatment for skin cancer. The selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... non-athletes recover from injury. Recently, he has implemented orthobiologic procedures as a method ... —Johnson is one of the first doctors to perform the treatment. Orthobiologics are ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, 2016 is World Sickle Cell Observance ... and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity Recovery Center of Marne, Michigan, ... Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder of the red blood cells, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Research and Markets has ... Market Analysis 2016 - Forecast to 2022" report to ... report contains up to date financial data derived from varied ... major trends with potential impact on the market during the ... segmentation which comprises of sub markets, regional and country level ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... WAYNE, Pa. , June 23, 2016 ... provider, will launch its next generation clinical outcomes platform, Bracket ... DIA Meeting held on June 26 – 30, 2016 in ... 6.0, the first electronic Clinical Outcome Assessment product of its ... DIA Booth #715. Bracket eCOA 6.0 is a ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016  Astellas today announced the establishment of Astellas Farma Colombia (AFC), a new affiliate with operations ... Latin America . ... ... ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: