Proinflammatory cytokines in the prefrontal cortex of teenage suicide victims

J Psychiatr Res. 2012 Jan;46(1):57-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2011.08.006. Epub 2011 Sep 8.


Teenage suicide is a major public health concern, but its neurobiology is not well understood. Proinflammatory cytokines play an important role in stress and in the pathophysiology of depression-two major risk factors for suicide. Cytokines are increased in the serum of patients with depression and suicidal behavior; however, it is not clear if similar abnormality in cytokines occurs in brains of suicide victims. We therefore measured the gene and protein expression levels of proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and tissue necrosis factor (TNF)-α in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of 24 teenage suicide victims and 24 matched normal control subjects. Our results show that the mRNA and protein expression levels of IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α were significantly increased in Brodmann area 10 (BA-10) of suicide victims compared with normal control subjects. These results suggest an important role for IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α in the pathophysiology of suicidal behavior and that proinflammatory cytokines may be an appropriate target for developing therapeutic agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postmortem Changes
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / pathology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Suicide*
  • Young Adult


  • Cytokines
  • RNA, Messenger