An enzyme in the kynurenine pathway that governs vulnerability to suicidal behavior by regulating excitotoxicity and neuroinflammation

L. Brundin, C. M. Sellgren, C. K. Lim, J. Grit*, E. Pålsson, M. Landén, M. Samuelsson, K. Lundgren, P. Brundin, D. Fuchs, T. T. Postolache, L. Traskman-Bendz, G. J. Guillemin, S. Erhardt

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Emerging evidence suggests that inflammation has a key role in depression and suicidal behavior. The kynurenine pathway is involved in neuroinflammation and regulates glutamate neurotransmission. In the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of suicidal patients, levels of inflammatory cytokines and the kynurenine metabolite quinolinic acid (QUIN), an N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor agonist, are increased. The enzyme amino-β-carboxymuconate-semialdehyde-decarboxylase (ACMSD) limits QUIN formation by competitive production of the neuroprotective metabolite picolinic acid (PIC). Therefore, decreased ACMSD activity can lead to excess QUIN. We tested the hypothesis that deficient ACMSD activity underlies suicidal behavior. We measured PIC and QUIN in CSF and plasma samples from 137 patients exhibiting suicidal behavior and 71 healthy controls. We used DSM-IV and the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale and Suicide Assessment Scale to assess behavioral changes. Finally, we genotyped ACMSD tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 77 of the patients and 150 population-based controls. Suicide attempters had reduced PIC and a decreased PIC/QUIN ratio in both CSF (P<0.001) and blood (P=0.001 and P<0.01, respectively). The reductions of PIC in CSF were sustained over 2 years after the suicide attempt based on repeated measures. The minor C allele of the ACMSD SNP rs2121337 was more prevalent in suicide attempters and associated with increased CSF QUIN. Taken together, our data suggest that increased QUIN levels may result from reduced activity of ACMSD in suicidal subjects. We conclude that measures of kynurenine metabolites can be explored as biomarkers of suicide risk, and that ACMSD is a potential therapeutic target in suicidal behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere865
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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