Summary: Binghampton University researchers report women with a history of suicide attempts express lower levels of BDNF, a protein critical for the creation and function of neurons, in their bloodstream. Researchers believe the level of BDNF found in the circulatory system may be a biomarker for suicidal behavior.
Source: Binghampton University.
Women with a history of suicide attempts exhibit different levels of a specific protein in their bloodstream than those with no history of suicide attempts, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.
Graduate student Anastacia Kudinova and Brandon E. Gibb, professor of psychology and director of clinical training at Binghamton University, recruited 73 women as part of a larger study focused on risk for depression and anxiety in families. They put the women into two groups — 34 women had a lifetime history of suicide attempts and 39 women had no lifetime history of suicide attempts. The researchers tested plasma levels in both groups for BDNF, or brain-derived neurotropic factor, a protein found in the brain and periphery that is critical to the creation and functioning of neurons and the ability of synapses to strengthen or weaken over time. They found that women with a history of suicide attempts displayed lower circulating levels of BDNF than women with no history of suicide attempts.
This evidence suggests that the level of BDNF found within a woman’s circulatory system serves as a promising biomarker for suicidal behavior.
“For this experiment, it was really important to understand that women with a history of suicide attempts who are not in a current suicidal crisis still have a BDNF marker that shows up lower,” said Gibb. “This suggests that BDNF is not just a marker of a person’s current suicidality or mood, but is actually a stable marker that may be able to predict risk of future suicide attempts.”
Kudinova, a graduate student in Gibb’s lab who designed and conducted the project, said: “Another key finding is that this was independent of a number of factors that could potentially influence BDNF levels — the participant’s current suicidality and mood; lifetime history of other mental health conditions, such as anxiety and substance use disorders; lifetime smoking history; BMI; body temperature; age; and ethnicity – which highlights the robustness of the results and adds to the value of BDNF as a promising biomarker for suicidal behavior.”
According to Gibb, the implications of this research have far-reaching effects.
“Testing BDNF levels can be incorporated into the standard blood test your primary care physician runs at annual checkups,” said Gibb. “Just like cholesterol levels help to determine levels of risk for heart disease, eventually doctors could have mental health tests that determine suicide risk.”
Binghamton University professor Terrence Deak and staff scientist Molly Deak contributed to this research.
Source: John Brhel – Binghampton University
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Gaetz et al./Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology
Original Research: Abstract for “Circulating Levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and History of Suicide Attempts in Women” by Anastacia Y. Kudinova MA, Terrence Deak PhD, Molly M. Deak PhD, and Brandon E. Gibb PhD in Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. Published online September 28 2017 doi:10.1111/sltb.12403
Circulating Levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and History of Suicide Attempts in Women
A growing body of research examining biological factors associated with suicidal behaviors highlights the role of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), involved in neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity. There is evidence suggesting that suicide attempters have lower BDNF levels than those with no history of suicide attempts. The key question addressed in the current investigation is whether differences in circulating BDNF levels persist beyond the current suicidal episode and would be observed in those with a past history of suicide attempts (SA). Plasma levels of BDNF were assessed in 73 women from the community. We found that women with a history of SA exhibited lower levels of BDNF than women with no SA history and this difference was maintained after statistically controlling for the influence of other potential psychiatric or demographic factors. These findings support and extend existing research by suggesting that circulating BDNF levels are decreased among individuals with a history of SA compared to individuals with no history of SA. This relation appeared to be specific to women’s history of SA and was not explained by other potential psychiatric or demographic factors, which further highlights the role of BDNF as a promising biomarker for suicidal behavior.
“Circulating Levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and History of Suicide Attempts in Women” by Anastacia Y. Kudinova MA, Terrence Deak PhD, Molly M. Deak PhD, and Brandon E. Gibb PhD in Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. Published online September 28 2017 doi:10.1111/sltb.12403