An overview of the neurobiology of suicidal behaviors as one meta-system

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Abstract

Suicidal behaviors (SB) may be regarded as the outmost consequence of mental illnesses, or as a distinct entity per se. Regardless, the consequences of SB are very large to both society and affected individuals. The path leading to SB is clearly a complex one involving interactions between the subject's biology and environmental influences throughout life. With the aim to generate a representative and diversified overview of the different neurobiological components hypothesized or shown implicated across the entire SB field up to date by any approach, we selected and compiled a list of 212 gene symbols from the literature. An increasing number of novel gene (products) have been introduced as candidates, with half being implicated in SB in only the last 4 years. These candidates represent different neurosystems and functions and might therefore be regarded as competing or redundant explanations. We then adopted a unifying approach by treating them all as parts of the same meta-system, using bioinformatic tools. We present a network of all components connected by physical protein-protein interactions (the SB interactome). We proceeded by exploring the differences between the highly connected core (˜30% of the candidate genes) and its peripheral parts, observing more functional homogeneity at the core, with multiple signal transduction pathways and actin-interacting proteins connecting a subset of receptors in nerve cell compartments as well as development/morphology phenotypes and the stress-sensitive synaptic plasticity processes of long term potentiation/depression. We suggest that SB neurobiology might also be viewed as one meta-system and perhaps be explained as intrinsic unbalances acting within the core or as imbalances arising between core and specific peripheral components.

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