Determination of monoamine and monoamine metabolites in the human brain: post mortem studies in a group of suicides and in a control group

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1976 Jan;53(1):7-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.1976.tb00054.x.


Different nuclei and regions of the brain from patients who had committed suicide and from controls were analysed for their content of monoamine and monoamine metabolites. There was a post mortem breakdown of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) which could be correlated to the time elapsed between the occurrence of death and autopsy. Homovanillic acid (HVA) and the monoamines did not decrease post mortem during the time observed (6-148 hours). There was no significant correlation between age and chemical variables in this investigation. There were no significant group differences between suicides and controls concerning dopamine, noradrenaline, 5-hydroxytryptamine, and HVA, 5-HIAA levels were significantly lower in the suicide group in six out of eight parts of the brain investigated. It was, however, also demonstrated that there was a longer time elapse between the occurrence of death and autopsy in the suicide group. The suicides came on average 48 hours later to autopsy than the controls. As there was a post mortem decrease of 5-HIAA, this time variable had to be kept constant when group differences were analysed. When the influence of this time variable was eliminated there were no longer any differences between suicides and controls. According to this investigation, there seem to be no differences in levels of monoamines and their metabolites between suicides and controls.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / metabolism
  • Autopsy
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Homovanillic Acid / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism*
  • Phenylacetates / metabolism*
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Suicide*
  • Time Factors


  • Phenylacetates
  • Serotonin
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Homovanillic Acid