OBJECTIVE: Suicide occurs in some, but not all depressed patients. So far, it remains unknown whether the studied stress-related candidate genes change in depression, suicide or both. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is involved in, among other things, impulse control and inhibitory behavior and plays an important role in both suicide and depression.
METHODS: We have employed qPCR to study 124 anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and dorsolateral PFC (DLPFC) brain samples, obtained from two brain banks, from: i) young depressed patients (average age 43 years) who committed suicide (MDD-S) and depressed patients who died from causes other than suicide (MDD-NS) and from ii) elderly depressed patients (average age 75 years) who did not commit suicide (DEP). Both cohorts were individually matched with non-psychiatric non-suicide control subjects. We determined the transcript levels of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis-regulating molecules (corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), CRH receptors, CRH binding protein, mineralocorticoid receptor/glucocorticoid receptor), transcription factors that regulate CRH expression, CRH-stimulating cytokines, chaperone proteins, retinoid signaling, brain-derived neurotrophic factor and tropomyosin-related kinase B, cytochrome proteins, nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and monoamines.
RESULTS: In the MDD-S group, expression levels of CRH and neuronal NOS-interacting DHHC domain-containing protein with dendritic mRNA (NIDD) were increased. Other changes were only present in the DEP group, i.e. decreased NIDD, and increased and 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 1A (5-HT1A) expression levels. Changes were found to be more pronounced in the anterior cingulate cortex than in the dorsolateral PFC.
CONCLUSION: Depressed patients who committed suicide have different gene expression patterns than depressed patients who died of causes other than suicide.