The association of attempted suicide with genetic variants in the SLC6A4 and TPH genes depends on the definition of suicidal behavior: a systematic review and meta-analysis
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The global prevalence of suicide has increased substantially over the last four decades. Suicidal behavior manifests owing to a combination of biological, behavioral and social factors; however, the etiology of suicidality remains elusive. Even though twin studies have reported a significant heritability of 30-50%, meta-analyses have not highlighted a common genetic variant associated with the spectrum of suicidal behavior. Here, we performed a systematic review of the literature (n = 112) to assess the association between serotonergic and non-serotonergic genetic polymorphisms and suicidal behavior. Using an inverse variance random-effects model, we developed pooled odds ratios for the 10 most commonly studied genetic variants related to suicidal behavior, each with at least five independent studies that met our stringent inclusion criteria. Our pooled results indicate no significant correlation between genetic polymorphisms and overall suicidal behavior. However, subgroups of suicide attempts demonstrated actual significance with the serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) 5HTTLPR (OR = 1.13 (95% confidence interval = 1.05-1.21), P = 0.001) and reached nominal significance with the tryptophan hydroxylase rs1800532 (1.22 (1.05-1.41), P = 0.007) variant. Subgroups of suicidal behavior (completions and attempts) displayed reduced heterogeneity compared with the overall suicidal behavior spectrum. Our findings suggest that the 5HTTLPR and rs1800532 polymorphisms are significantly associated with suicide attempts, but not associated with completed suicides. The high degree of heterogeneity in past studies may be attributed to the lack of a phenotypic distinction between suicidal attempts and completions. Consequently, we have identified an important source of phenotypic heterogeneity that provides a rationale for the current lack of a common genetic variant associated with suicidal behavior.
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