Yale researchers spot a biomarker that could help to predict suicide

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Researchers at Yale University believe they’ve found a marker within the brain that could help to prevent suicide.

The marker, known as mGlurR5, is a glutamate receptor found throughout all regions of the brain, and is known to play a role in a number of functions like sleep and memory. Individuals currently experiencing suicidal thoughts show elevated levels of the marker, while those without thoughts of suicide had normal levels.

“If you have people who suffer from high blood pressure, you want to reduce those levels right away,” said Irina Esterlis, associate professor of psychiatry at Yale and senior author of the study. “We don’t have that option with PTSD.”

To test the hypothesis, researchers gathered a small group of individuals, scanning five different brain regions using PET scans. Individuals taking part in the study were split into three groups, each with 29 individuals: PTSD patients, patients with major depressive disorder, and 29 healthy patients showing no signs or symptoms of either.

In PTSD patients, and those with major depressive disorder, researchers found that these glutamate receptors tended to gather outside of brain cells, as opposed to inside, like in a healthy individual. 30 percent of these receptors congregate outside the cell in individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts, as compared to healthy individuals, researchers noted.