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Dangerous DNA: Genes linked to suicidal thoughts with med use

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11:51am, October 3, 2007

Two gene variations appear frequently in depressed patients who contemplate killing themselves during treatment with a common antidepressant medication, a new study finds.

In the study, reports of suicidal thoughts occurred from 2 to 15 times as often in antidepressant-treated patients with the key gene variations as in patients without them, say psychiatrist Gonzalo Laje of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., and his colleagues. Participants received citalopram, a widely prescribed antidepressant related to medications such as fluoxetine (Prozac).

"These findings need to be replicated before we can devise a genetic test to determine who's at risk for suicidal thoughts during antidepressant treatment," Laje says.

The study identifies two crucial genes that contribute to the formation of cell receptors for glutamate, a chemical messenger in the brain that has been implicated in antidepressant effects. Variants of these genes apparently promote

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