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July 08, 2004
Enzyme linked to suicide
Read more... Schizophrenia Biology
Reduced levels of brain enzyme Protein kinase C (PKC) may contribute to suicidal behavior, new research shows.
PKC is an enzyme that promotes neuron communication in the brain; it has been previously linked to depression and other mood disorders.
A study at the University of Illinois examined the brains of 34 teenage subjects; 17 had committed suicide, the others had died from other causes. The levels of PKC were significantly lower in the brains of the suicide victims (9 of which had a history of mental disorder, and 2 more of which suffered from substance abuse).
The causal link - whether lowered PKC levels increases suicidal behavior, or whether increased suicide risk affects PKC levels - is still unclear. Moreover, Dr. Peter Parker (principle scientist at the London Cancer Research Institute) cautioned that the results might be skewed if the brain samples were not taken immediately after death. PKC protein degrades naturally over time.
However, with this preliminary knowledge, the research team is investigating treatment possibilities that might target the PKC enzyme in suicidal patients.
For the full news article, see news.bbc.co.uk
Research Abstract Info (available at www.pubmed.com): "Altered expression and phosphorylation of myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS) in postmortem brains of suicide victims with or without depression" (Pandey GN, Dwivedi Y, et al.; J Psychiatr Res. 2003:37(5):421-32).
For more research on the neuroscience behind suicidal tendencies, see the feature article in the February 2003 edition of Scientific American: "Why? The Neuroscience of Suicide" (www.sciam.com). This article focuses mainly on the role of serotonin availability in the brains of suicide victims.
See also the NIMH Suicide Research Consortium (at www.nimh.nih.gov)
Posted by Julia at July 8, 2004 04:56 PM
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