Elevated cytokine expression in the orbitofrontal cortex of victims of suicide


Leonardo H. Tonelli, PhD, Mood and Anxiety Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, MSTF Building, Room 502, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.
E-mail: Ltonelli@psych.umaryland.edu


Objective:  Based on the reported association between cytokines with depression and suicide, and evidence of increased markers of inflammation in the brain of suicide victims, the present study examined the expression of cytokines in the orbitofrontal cortex of suicide victims.

Method:  In a postmortem sample obtained from the Brodman area 11 of suicides (n = 34) and controls (n = 17), real-time RT-PCR was used to compare the expression of mRNA species for tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin (IL)-1β, 4, 5, 6, and 13.

Results:  Increased expression of IL-4 was found in women suicide victims and IL-13 in men suicide victims. Elevated but not significant cytokine expression was also observed for TNF-α in women suicide victims.

Conclusion:  To our knowledge, these results provide the first evidence of the presence of mRNA transcripts of type 2 T-helper cytokines in the human orbitofrontal cortex and their increased expression in the brain of suicides.