A genome-wide association study of suicidal behavior

Hanga Galfalvy, Fatemeh Haghighi, Colin Hodgkinson, David Goldman, Maria A. Oquendo, Ainsley Burke, Yung yu Huang, Ina Giegling, Dan Rujescu, Alexandre Bureau, Gustavo Turecki, J. John Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Genome wide array studies have reported limited success in identifying genetic markers conferring risk for suicidal behavior (SB). This may be attributable to study designs with primary outcome other than SB. We performed a GWAS on suicides and cases with a history of nonfatal suicide attempts compared with psychiatric controls and healthy volunteers. A consortium of USA, Canadian and German teams assembled two groups of cases (suicide attempters and suicides, N=577) and non-attempter psychiatric and healthy controls (N=1,233). Logistic regression was used to test genotype-suicidal behavior association. The test was repeated separating suicide attempt and completed suicide as outcomes. No SNP reached genome-wide significance, but several SNPs within STK3, ADAMTS14, PSME2, and TBX20 genes reached P<1×10-5. The top SNPs for the suicide attempt analysis included two from DPP10, one from CTNNA3 and one from STK32B. In the suicide analysis we found seven SNPs from the TBX20 gene in the top hits. Pathway analysis identified the following pathways: "Cellular Assembly and Organization," "Nervous System Development and Function," "Cell Death and Survival," "Immunological Disease," "Infectious Disease," and "Inflammatory Response." The top genes in the SB analysis did not overlap with those in the ideation analysis. No genome wide significant results suggest that susceptibility to SB has genetic risk factors with smaller effect sizes. The strongest candidate genes, ADAMTS14, and PSME2 (both linked to inflammatory response), STK3 (neuronal cell death), and TBX20 (brainstem motor neuron development), have not been previously reported in association with suicide and warrant further study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-563
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • GWAS
  • Immune response
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide
  • Suicide attempt


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