A Critical Analysis of the Role of Serotonin in Suicide.

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A serotonergic dysfunction in the brain has been reported to be involved in suicidal behaviour independently of the presence of a specific psychiatric disorder (Mann et al., 1999). The seretonergic receptor system is comprised of fourteen receptor subtypes that are subdivided into seven families (Raymond et al., 2001). The majority of studies have focused on serotonin receptor subtypes, and have suggested that some of the receptors may be especially involved in the pathogenesis of depression, suicidal behaviour, aggression and impulsivity. The first part of this essay will focus on the role of serotonin, 5-hydroxytryptamine monoamine neurotransmission (5-HT) in suicide. More specifically, it will look on the studies of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) which is the principal metabolite of 5-HT in depression. The second part of the essay will investigate the serotonin receptor abnormalities. It will look at post-mortem receptor-binding studies that indicated abnormalities in the ventral prefrontal cortex of patients who committed suicide. Neurochemical abnormalities The 5-HT has a key role in the behaviour of humans and other species, such as impulsivity and aggression. This is due to the 5-HT system's characteristics; they are the signal mediator for the effects of serotonin which is a powerful functional distributor of mood sensitivity. Many studies of suicide attempters have confirmed abnormalities in 5-HT neurotransmission and the risk of suicide has been strongly correlated with the low concentration of this neurotransmitter. This may be caused by deficits in the uptake of serotonin (Stoff & Mann, 1997). Alterations in neurotransmitter and neuromodulato receptor density could play an important role in the neurobiological basis of suicide (Bland, 1997). One of the possible causes of low concentration of CSF

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