Development of transdiagnostic genetic markers to predict suicide attempt

Project: Research project

Project Details


Suicide rates increased 24% between 1999 and 2014 and Psychiatric disorders have been diagnosed in over 90% of suicide completers or attempters. Clinical means of assessing risk of suicide independent of diagnosis produce many false negatives and positives. The development of trans-diagnostic biomarkers for suicide risk would be of exceptional value in the triage of individuals whose suicide risk is uncertain after considering the usual risk factors, of which prior attempt is the most informative. We have preliminary evidence for transdiagnostic markers for suicide attempt in two common psychiatric disorders which have very high suicide completion rates and which pose severe challenges for clinicians to assess and triage. However, the small sample size of our cohort makes it premature to call our finding a transdiagnostic replication of Willour et al. The major goals of this proposal are 1) to create a panel of genetic biomarkers derived from a combined analysis of two independent genome-wide association study (GWAS) on suicide attempt (SA) in Caucasian patients with schizophrenia (SCZ); 2) to identify transdiagnostic biomarkers for suicide risk through meta-analysis of all available datasets derived from patients with SA with diagnoses of bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD), or other disorders, if available; and to evaluate the predictive value of biomarkers for SA across primary disease categories in an independent sample of 616 Caucasian subjects mixed with SCZ/BD/MDD, and 3) to evaluate the differential gene expression of replicated or trans-diagnostic (RDoC-based) marker genes through analysis of transcriptomic datasets collected from post-mortem tissues enriched in suicide completers and matched controls. The development of a genetic biomarker panel for SA in SCZ, SAD, BD, MDD and other diagnoses would be of exceptional value in the assessment, triage, and treatment planning of individuals at risk for suicide. This study, if successful, could lead to a genetic test for suicide risk, independent of psychiatric diagnosis.
Effective start/end date11/1/1710/31/19


  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (DIG-1-094-16)


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