Neuropathology of suicide. A review and an approach

Susan E. Bachus, Thomas M. Hyde, Mayada Akil, Cynthia Shannon Weickert, Marquis P. Vawter, Joel E. Kleinman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Neuropathology is one approach to the effort to elucidate the pathophysiology of suicide. Initial neurochemical studies focusing on the roles of serotonin (5-HT) and noradrenaline (NE) abnormalities in brains of suicide victims have been somewhat inconsistent. More recently developed methodologies, including quantitative receptor autoradiography, immunoblotting, immunohistochemistry, cell morphometry, in situ hybridization, Northern analysis, solution hybridization/RNase protection assay, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, and genotyping, which have already been applied successfully in studies of other disorders of brain structure or function, are now increasingly being adopted for postmortem studies of suicide. These new strategies are adding convergent evidence for brain 5-HT and NE dysfunction in the etiology of suicide susceptibility, refining the neuroanatomical localization of this dysfunction, and in addition, implicating heretofore unsuspected candidate neurotransmitter systems in the neuropathological substrates of suicide susceptibility. It is argued here that the confluence of the availability of suitable postmortem samples and this augmentation of our armamentarium of techniques promises the attainment of important new insights into the biological underpinnings of suicide from postmortem research. It is to be hoped that this new knowledge might inspire novel pharmacotherapeutic strategies for the prevention of suicide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-219
Number of pages19
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - Dec 29 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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