The epigenetics of suicide: explaining the biological effects of early life environmental adversity.

Douglas Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Archives of suicide research: official journal of the International Academy for Suicide Research 10/2010; 14(4):291-310. DOI: 10.1080/13811118.2010.524025
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A number of recent studies have shown epigenetic alterations associated with suicidal behavior. These epigenetic mechanisms, which alter gene expression via alternative mechanisms to the coding DNA sequence, result from environmental effects acting on the genome. Studies in rodents indicate that variation in the early environment will trigger these epigenetic modifications and recent human data suggest the same may be true in humans.The expression of a number of genes, which are involved in normal brain functions and that have been shown to be under epigenetic control, seem to be dysregulated in suicide. The present review briefly describes the main epigenetic mechanisms involved in the regulation of gene expression and discusses recent findings of epigenetic alterations in suicidal behavior.

1 Follower
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Suicide and suicidal behaviors are complex, heterogeneous phenomena that are thought to result from the interactions among distal factors increasing predisposition and proximal factors acting as precipitants. Epigenetic factors are likely to act both distally and proximally. Aspirational Goal 1 aims to find clear targets for suicide and suicidal behavior intervention through greater understanding of the interplay among the biological, psychological, and social risk and protective factors associated with suicide. This paper discusses Aspirational Goal 1, focusing on the research pathway related to epigenetics, suicide, and suicidal behaviors. Current knowledge on epigenetic factors associated with suicide and suicidal behaviors is reviewed and avenues for future research are discussed. Epigenetic factors are a promising area of further investigation in the understanding of suicide and suicidal behaviors and may hold clues to identifying targets or avenues for intervention.
    American Journal of Preventive Medicine 09/2014; 47(3):S144–S151. DOI:10.1016/j.amepre.2014.06.011 · 4.28 Impact Factor
  • Source
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Clinical studies find that childhood adversity and stress-ful life events in adulthood increase the risk for major depression and for suicide. The predispositions to either major depression or suicide are thought to depend on genetic risk factors or epigenetic effects. We investigated DNA methylation signatures postmortem in brains of suicides with diagnosis of major depressive disorder. DNA methylation levels were determined at single C-phosphate-G (CpG) resolution sites within ventral prefrontal cortex of 53 suicides and nonpsychiatric controls, aged 16 to 89 years. We found that DNA methylation increases throughout the lifespan. Suicides showed an 8-fold greater number of methylated CpG sites relative to controls (P<2.2x10-16), with greater DNA methylation changes over and above the increased methylation observed in normal aging. This increased DNA methylation may be a significant contributor to the neuropathology and psychopathology underlying the risk of suicide in depression.
    Dialogues in clinical neuroscience 09/2014; 16(3):430-8.