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Antibody Markers Linked to Suicide Attempts

J Psychiatr Res; ePub 2016 Dec 1; Dickerson, et al

The identification of blood-based antibody markers should provide for more personalized methods for the assessment and treatment, and ultimately prevention, of suicide attempts in individuals with serious mental illnesses, a recent study found. Researchers assessed 162 patients receiving treatment for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression on the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale for suicide attempt history and other clinical measures. All participants had a blood sample drawn from which were measured antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii and other neurotropic infectious agents. They found:

  • A total of 72 participants (44%) had a lifetime suicide attempt; these individuals had elevated levels of IgM class antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii and Cytomegalovirus (CMV).
  • There was also an association between the levels of these antibodies and the number of suicide attempts.
  • There were particularly strong odds of a suicide attempt history in individuals who had elevated levels of IgM antibodies to both Toxoplasma gondii and to CMV, suggesting an additive risk associated with the antibodies.


Dickerson F, Wilcox HC, Adamos M, et al. Suicide attempts and markers of immune response in individuals with serious mental illness. [Published online ahead of print December 1, 2016]. J Psychiatr Res. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2016.11.011.