Suicide, stress and serotonin receptor 1A promoter polymorphism -1019C>G in Slovenian suicide victims

Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2009 Jun;259(4):234-8. doi: 10.1007/s00406-008-0861-4. Epub 2009 Feb 17.


Implication of serotonergic system in suicide and suicide attempts has been discussed for several years. One of the most abundant serotonin receptors in the mammalian brain is the receptor 1A (5-HT1A); studies of its polymorphisms and suicide have provided very inconsistent results so far. The suggestion that the G allele depresses HTR1A autoreceptor expression, and therefore reduces serotonergic neurotransmission that might predispose to depression and suicide, made the promoter polymorphism -1019C>G a very promising candidate gene. In our study we analyzed promoter polymorphism -1019C>G on 323 suicide victims and 190 controls (all of Slovenian origin), taking into account sex, suicide method, and in case of suicide victims also stressful life events. Differences in the distributions of genotype and allele frequencies were not statistically significant between suicide victims and control group, and the same was found for distributions according to sex and suicide method. For 62 suicide victims information about stressful life events in the month prior to the suicide and in childhood was provided. For analysis we combined CG/GG genotypes and compared them to the CC genotype. More stressful life events in the month prior to the suicide were reported for the subgroup with CC genotype (mean number of events = 2.53; SD = 1.50) in comparison to subgroup with CG/GG genotypes (mean number of events = 1.58; SD = 1.32; P < 0.05). However, subgroups of suicide victims with CC or CG/GG genotypes did not differ regarding numbers of reported stressful life events in childhood (P > 0.05). Our study provides no evidence for the implication of HTR1A promoter polymorphism in suicide in general, but it suggests further studies that would take into account the interconnected network of suicide completion, genetic background and stress, beside other risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Depressive Disorder / genetics*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A / genetics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Slovenia
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Suicide*


  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A