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Increased mRNA expression of cytochrome oxidase in dorsal raphe nucleus of depressive suicide victims

Authors Sanchez-Bahillo A, Bautista-Hernandez V, Gonzalez CB, Bañon R, Luna A, Hirsch EC, Herrero M

Published 11 April 2008 Volume 2008:4(2) Pages 413—416

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S2156


A Sanchez-Bahillo1, V Bautista-Hernandez1, Carlos Barcia Gonzalez1, R Bañon2, A Luna2, EC Hirsch3, Maria-Trinidad Herrero1

1Clinical and Experimental Neuroscience, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red sobre Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas (CIBERNED); 2Department of Legal Medicine, Department of Human Anatomy, School of Medicine, University of Murcia, Campus de Espinardo, Murcia 30100, Spain; 3INSERM U679 Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, Boulevard de l’Hôpital, Paris, France

Abstract: Suicidal behavior is a problem with important social repercussions. Some groups of the population show a higher risk of suicide; for example, depression, alcoholism, psychosis or drug abuse frequently precedes suicidal behavior. However, the relationship between metabolic alterations in the brain and premorbid clinical symptoms of suicide remains uncertain. The serotonergic and noradrenergic systems have frequently been, implicated in suicidal behavior and the amount of serotonin in the brain and CSF of suicide victims has been found to be low compared with normal subjects. However, there are contradictory results regarding the role of noradrenergic neurons in the mediation of suicide attempts, possibly reflecting the heterogeneity of conditions that lead to a common outcome. In the present work we focus on the subgroup of suicide victims that share a common diagnosis of major depression. Based on post-mortem studies analyzing mRNA expression by in situ hybridization, serotonergic neurons from the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) from depressive suicide victims are seen to over-express cytochrome oxidase mRNA. However, no corresponding changes were found in the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) mRNA in the noradrenergic neurons of the Locus Coeruleus (LC). These results suggest that, despite of the low levels of serotonin described in suicide victims, the activity of DRN neurons could increase in the suicidally depressed, probably due to the over activation of serotonin re-uptake. No alteration was found in noradrenergic neurons, suggesting that they play no crucial role in the suicidal behavior of depressive patients.

Keywords: depression, suicidal behavior, dorsal raphe nucleus, noradrenergic neurons

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