Candidate Endophenotypes for Genetic Studies of Suicidal Behavior

J. John Mann, Victoria A. Arango, Shelli Avenevoli, David A. Brent, Frances A. Champagne, Paula Clayton, Dianne Currier, Donald M. Dougherty, Fatemah Haghighi, Susan E. Hodge, Joel Kleinman, Thomas Lehner, Francis McMahon, Eve K. Mościcki, Maria A. Oquendo, Ganshayam N. Pandey, Jane Pearson, Barbara Stanley, Joseph Terwilliger, Amy Wenzel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

294 Scopus citations


Twin, adoption, and family studies have established the heritability of suicide attempts and suicide. Identifying specific suicide diathesis-related genes has proven more difficult. As with psychiatric disorders in general, methodological difficulties include complexity of the phenotype for suicidal behavior and distinguishing suicide diathesis-related genes from genes associated with mood disorders and other suicide-associated psychiatric illness. Adopting an endophenotype approach involving identification of genes associated with heritable intermediate phenotypes, including biological and/or behavioral markers more proximal to genes, is an approach being used for other psychiatric disorders. Therefore, a workshop convened by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University, and the National Institute of Mental Health sought to identify potential target endophenotypes for genetic studies of suicidal behavior. The most promising endophenotypes were trait aggression/impulsivity, early-onset major depression, neurocognitive function, and cortisol social stress response. Other candidate endophenotypes requiring further investigation include serotonergic neurotransmission, second messenger systems, and borderline personality disorder traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)556-563
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2009


  • Endophenotype
  • genetics
  • suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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