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Keywords:

  • CRHR1;
  • depression;
  • haplotype;
  • male;
  • SNP;
  • stress;
  • suicidality

Dysregulation in the stress response of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, involving the corticotrophin-releasing hormone and its main receptor (CRHR1), is considered to play a major role in depression and suicidal behavior. To comprehensively map the genetic variation in CRHR1 in relation to suicidality and depression, as a follow-up to our initial report on SNP rs4792887, we analyzed six new single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), in an extended sample of family trios (= 672) with suicide attempter offspring, by using family-based association tests. The minor T-allele of exonic SNP rs12936511, not previously studied in the context of psychiatric disorders and suicidal behaviors, was significantly transmitted to suicidal males with increased Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scores (= 347; = 0.0028). We found additional evidence of association and linkage with increased BDI scores among suicidal males with an additional SNP, located proximally to the index SNP rs4792887, as well as with two distal SNPs, which were correlated with index SNP rs4792887. Analysis of haplotypes showed that each of the risk alleles segregated onto three separate haplotypes, whereas a fourth ‘nonrisk’ haplotype (‘CGC’) contained none of the risk alleles and was preferentially transmitted to suicidal males with lowered BDI scores (= 0.0007). The BDI scores among all suicidal males, who carried a homozygous combination of any of the three risk haplotypes (non-CGC/non-CGC; = 160), were significantly increased (= 0.000089) compared with suicidal male CGC carriers (= 181). Thus, while the characteristics of the suicide female attempters remained undetermined, the male suicidal offspring had increased depression intensity related to main genetic effects by exonic SNP rs12936511 and homozygous non-CGC haplotypes.