Profiling brain expression of the spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase 1 (SAT1) gene in suicide

Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2009 Oct 5;150B(7):934-43. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.30920.


Altered stress reactivity is considered to be a risk factor for both major depressive disorder and suicidal behavior. The authors have sought to expand their previous findings implicating altered expression of spermidine/spermine N(1)-acetyltransferase 1 (SAT1), the rate-limiting enzyme involved in catabolism of the polyamines spermidine and spermine in the polyamine stress response (PSR), across multiple brain regions between control individuals and depressed individuals who have died by suicide. Microarray expression of probesets annotated to SAT1 were examined across 17 brain regions in 13 controls and 26 individuals who have died by suicide (16 with a diagnosis of major depression and 10 without), all of French-Canadian origin. Profiling conducted on the Affymetrix U133A/B chipset was further examined on a second chipset (U133 Plus 2.0) using RT-PCR, and analyzed in a second, independent sample. A reduction in SAT1 expression identified through multiple probesets was observed across 12 cortical regions in depressed individuals who have died by suicide compared with controls. Of these, five cortical regions showed statistically significant reductions which were supported by RT-PCR and analysis on the additional chipset. SAT1 cortical expression levels were also found to be significantly lower in an independent sample of German subjects with major depression who died by suicide in comparison with controls. These findings suggest that downregulation of SAT1 expression may play a role in depression and suicidality, possibly by impeding the normal PSR program or through compensation for the increased polyamine metabolism accompanying the psychological distress associated with depressive disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetyltransferases / genetics*
  • Acyltransferases / genetics*
  • Adult
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Demography
  • Depression / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Organ Specificity / genetics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Suicide / psychology*


  • Acyltransferases
  • Acetyltransferases
  • diamine N-acetyltransferase