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Vol. 57, No. 3, 2008
Issue release date: July 2008
Neuropsychobiology 2008;57:139–145

Association of Polymorphism (Val66Met) of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor with Suicide Attempts in Depressed Patients

Sarchiapone M. · Carli V. · Roy A. · Iacoviello L. · Cuomo C. · Latella M.C. · di Giannantonio M. · Janiri L. · de Gaetano M. · Janal M.N.
aDepartment of Health Sciences, University of Molise, bLaboratory of Genetic and Environmental Epidemiology, Research Laboratories ‘John Paul II’, Center for High Technology Research and Education in Biomedical Sciences, Catholic University, Campobasso, cDepartment of Biomedical Sciences, University of Chieti, Chieti, and dInstitute of Psychiatry, Catholic University, Rome, Italy; ePsychiatry Service, New Jersey VA Healthcare System, East Orange, N.J., and fDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, N.J., USA

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Introduction: Recent post-mortem studies of suicide victims have implicated brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in suicide. Therefore, it was decided to examine the possible role of a gene in the regulation of BDNF activity in relation to suicidal behaviour among depressed patients. Method: A series of 170 depressed patients were evaluated for their history of suicide attempts and genotyped for the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism (SNP ID: rs6265). Depressed patients who had (n = 97) or had not (n = 73) attempted suicide were compared. Results: Depressed patients who carried the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism variant (GA + AA) appeared to show a significantly increased risk of suicidal behaviour. The risk of a suicide attempt was also significantly higher among those reporting higher levels of childhood emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Secondary analyses suggested that depression severity was a significant risk factor only in the wild-type BDNF genotype, and that the risk of suicide attempts was more predictable within the wild-type group. Conclusion: These preliminary data suggest that BDNF may play a role in the suicidal behaviour of depressed patients.

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