Women who attempt suicide exhibit different protein levels years after the attempt

December 5, 2017, Binghamton University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

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 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 of 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 .

"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 ."

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 tests that determine suicide risk."

Explore further: Suicide attempts on the rise in US, finds study

More information: Anastacia Y. Kudinova et al, Circulating Levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and History of Suicide Attempts in Women, Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior (2017). DOI: 10.1111/sltb.12403

Related Stories

Suicide attempts on the rise in US, finds study

September 13, 2017
New data confirm that suicide attempts among U.S. adults are on the rise, with a disproportional effect on younger, socioeconomically disadvantaged adults with a history of mental disorders. The study, by researchers at Columbia ...

Arthritis linked to suicide attempts

June 15, 2016
One in every 26 men with arthritis have attempted suicide compared to one in 50 men without arthritis. Women with arthritis also had a higher prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts than women without arthritis (5.3% vs 3.2%), ...

Suicide and genetics: a complicated association

April 22, 2017
Dear Mayo Clinic: Why does it seem that suicide tends to run in families? Does it have anything to do with genetics?

Risk of suicide attempts in army units with history of suicide attempts

July 26, 2017
Does a previous suicide attempt in a soldier's U.S. Army unit increase the risk of other suicide attempts?

Psychotic experiences put kids at higher suicide risk

August 30, 2017
Otherwise healthy people who experience hallucinations or delusions are more likely to have later suicidal thoughts or attempts, an international study has found.

Caring youth-parent relations can be vital to preventing adolescent suicide attempts

February 11, 2015
Positive relations between youth and their parents can be key to preventing adolescent suicide attempts, according to the University of British Columbia (UBC) research.

Recommended for you

College students choose smartphones over food

November 16, 2018
University at Buffalo researchers have found that college students prefer food deprivation over smartphone deprivation, according to results from a paper in Addictive Behaviors.

Study finds mindfulness apps can improve mental health

November 15, 2018
A University of Otago study has found that using mindfulness meditation applications (apps) on phones is associated with improvements in people's mental health.

Social media is affecting the way we view our bodies—and not in a good way

November 15, 2018
Young women who actively engage with social media images of friends who they think are more attractive than themselves report feeling worse about their own appearance afterward, a York University study shows.

New research has revealed we are actually better at remembering names than faces

November 14, 2018
With the Christmas party season fast approaching, there will be plenty of opportunity to re-live the familiar, and excruciatingly-awkward, social situation of not being able to remember an acquaintance's name.

Older adults' abstract reasoning ability predicts depressive symptoms over time

November 14, 2018
Age-related declines in abstract reasoning ability predict increasing depressive symptoms in subsequent years, according to data from a longitudinal study of older adults in Scotland. The research is published in Psychological ...

The illusion of multitasking boosts performance

November 13, 2018
Our ability to do things well suffers when we try to complete several tasks at once, but a series of experiments suggests that merely believing that we're multitasking may boost our performance by making us more engaged in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.