Omics Approaches to Investigate the Pathogenesis of Suicide

Biol Psychiatry. 2024 May 29:S0006-3223(24)01352-0. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2024.05.017. Online ahead of print.


Suicide is the second leading cause of death in U.S. adolescents and young adults and is generally associated with a psychiatric disorder. Suicidal behavior has a complex etiology and pathogenesis. Moderate heritability suggests genetic causes. Associations between childhood and recent life adversity indicate contributions from epigenetic factors. Genomic contributions to suicide pathogenesis remain largely unknown. This article is based on a workshop held to design strategies to identify molecular drivers of suicide neurobiology that would be putative new treatment targets. The panel determined that while bulk tissue studies provide comprehensive information, single-nucleus approaches that identify cell type-specific changes are needed. While single-nuclei techniques lack information on cytoplasm, processes, spines, and synapses, spatial multiomic technologies on intact tissue detect cell alterations specific to brain tissue layers and subregions. Because suicide has genetic and environmental drivers, multiomic approaches that combine cell type-specific epigenome, transcriptome, and proteome provide a more complete picture of pathogenesis. To determine the direction of effect of suicide risk gene variants on RNA and protein expression and how these interact with epigenetic marks, single-nuclei and spatial multiomics quantitative trait loci maps should be integrated with whole-genome sequencing and genome-wide association databases. The workshop concluded with a recommendation for the formation of an international suicide biology consortium that will bring together brain banks and investigators with expertise in cutting-edge omics technologies to delineate the biology of suicide and identify novel potential treatment targets to be tested in cellular and animal models for drug and biomarker discovery to guide suicide prevention.

Keywords: Human brain; Multiomics; Postmortem; Sequencing; Suicide.

Publication types

  • Review