Leo Sher, M.D.
A research report, “Attempted suicide and oxytocin-related gene polymorphisms” has recently been published in the Journal of Affective Disorders (1). Oxytocin, a neuropeptide that plays a role in childbirth, lactation and attachment, has been a focus of studies related to suicidal ideation and behavior. It has been reported previously that a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR), rs53576, and a SNP of the CD38 gene, which regulates oxytocin secretion, rs3796863, are associated with depression and suicidal ideation.
The authors examined the relationship of these two SNPs with history of suicide attempt. Secondary analyses investigated relationships of genotype with sex, diagnosis, history of abuse, depression, suicidal ideation, and attachment and personality traits.
The sample included 236 subjects (54.7% female) who participated in mood disorder research. Of the total sample, 161 had major depressive disorder and 75 had bipolar disorder. One hundred and three (43.6%) subjects had made at least one lifetime suicide attempt.
The A allele of rs53576 was associated with history of suicide attempt. A differential effect of rs3796863 genotype on suicide attempt risk was noticed by diagnosis. In the bipolar disorder sample, CC and AC genotypes were associated with higher odds of suicide attempt compared to AA, while in the major depressive disorder sample, AC subjects were more likely than CC subjects to have made an attempt. The authors suggest that this study is the first to demonstrate that genetic variation at OXTR rs53576 affects risk of suicide attempt.
- Parris MS, Grunebaum MF, Galfalvy HC, Andronikashvili A, Burke AK, Yin H, Min E, Huang YY, Mann JJ. Attempted suicide and oxytocin-related gene polymorphisms. J Affect Disord. 2018 May 17;238:62-68. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.05.022. [Epub ahead of print]