Sex differences in brain gene expression among suicide completers

Brenda Cabrera-Mendoza, Cristóbal Fresno, Nancy Monroy-Jaramillo, Gabriel Rodrigo Fries, Consuelo Walss-Bass, David C. Glahn, Patricia Ostrosky-Wegman, Roberto Cuauhtemoc Mendoza-Morales, Fernando García-Dolores, Carlos Enrique Díaz-Otañez, Eli Elier González-Sáenz, Alma Delia Genis-Mendoza, José Jaime Martínez-Magaña, Ana Luisa Romero-Pimentel, Gonzalo Flores, Rubén Antonio Vázquez-Roque, Humberto Nicolini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Suicide rates vary substantially by sex. Suicides committed by males significantly outnumber female suicides. Disparities in community and social factors provide a partial explanation for this phenomenon. Thus, the evaluation of sex differences at a biological level might contribute to the elucidation of the factors involved in this imbalance. The aim of the present study was to evaluate sex-specific gene expression patterns in the suicidal brain. Methods: postmortem samples from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) of 75 Latino individuals were analyzed. We considered the following groups: i) male suicides (n = 38), ii) female suicides (n = 10), iii) male controls (n = 20), and iv) female controls (n = 7). Gene expression profiles were evaluated by microarrays. Differentially expressed genes among the groups were identified with a linear model. Similarities and differences in the gene sets between the sexes were identified. Results: Differentially expressed genes were identified between suicides and controls of each sex: 1,729 genes in females and 1,997 genes in males. Female-exclusive suicide genes were related to cell proliferation and immune response. Meanwhile, male-exclusive suicide genes were associated to DNA binding and ribonucleic protein complex. Sex-independent suicide genes showed enrichment in mitochondrial and vesicular functions. Limitations: Relatively small sample size. Our diagnosis approach was limited to information found on coroner's records. The analysis was limited to a single brain area (DLPFC) and we used microarrays. Conclusion: Previously unexplored sex differences in the brain gene expression of suicide completers were identified, providing valuable foundation for the evaluation of sex-specific factors in suicide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-77
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Apr 15 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender
  • Microarrays
  • Postmortem
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Suicidal
  • Transcriptome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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