Suicide Attempt, Clinical Correlates, and BDNF Val66Met Polymorphism in Chronic Patients With Schizophrenia

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Objective: Recent evidence suggests the role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the pathophysiology of suicidal behavior. Because schizophrenia patients usually have high suicide rates and numerous studies have suggested that BDNF may contribute to the psychopathology of schizophrenia, we hypothesized that the functional polymorphism of BDNF (Val66Met) was associated with suicide attempts in patients with schizophrenia in a Chinese Han population. Method: This polymorphism was genotyped in 825 chronic schizophrenia patients with (n = 123) and without (n = 702) suicide attempts and 445 healthy controls without a history of suicide attempts using a case-control design. The schizophrenia symptoms were assessed by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. Results: There were no significant differences in BDNF Val66Met genotype and allele distributions between the patients and healthy controls. However, we found the Val allele (p = .023) and the Val/Val genotypes (p = .058) to be associated with a history of suicide attempts. Moreover, some clinical characteristics, including age and cigarettes smoked each day, interacted with the BDNF gene variant and appeared to play an important role in suicide attempts among schizophrenia patients. Conclusions: The BDNF Val66Met polymorphism itself and its interaction with some clinical variables may influence suicide attempts among schizophrenia patients.

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