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Suicidal Behavior Is Associated with Reduced Corpus Callosum Area

  • Fabienne Cyprien
    Affiliations
    Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM), Unit 1061, Neuropsychiatry, Epidemiological and Clinical Research, La Colombière Hospital, Montpellier, France

    University of Montpellier I, Montpellier, France

    Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Montpellier, Montpellier, France
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  • Philippe Courtet
    Affiliations
    Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM), Unit 1061, Neuropsychiatry, Epidemiological and Clinical Research, La Colombière Hospital, Montpellier, France

    University of Montpellier I, Montpellier, France

    Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Montpellier, Montpellier, France
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  • Alain Malafosse
    Affiliations
    Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM), Unit 1061, Neuropsychiatry, Epidemiological and Clinical Research, La Colombière Hospital, Montpellier, France

    Department of Psychiatry, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
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  • Jerome Maller
    Affiliations
    Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, Alfred and Monash University School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Melbourne, Australia
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  • Chantal Meslin
    Affiliations
    Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
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  • Alain Bonafé
    Affiliations
    University of Montpellier I, Montpellier, France

    Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Montpellier, Montpellier, France
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  • Emmanuelle Le Bars
    Affiliations
    University of Montpellier I, Montpellier, France

    Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Montpellier, Montpellier, France
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  • Nicolas Menjot de Champfleur
    Affiliations
    University of Montpellier I, Montpellier, France

    Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Montpellier, Montpellier, France
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  • Karen Ritchie
    Affiliations
    Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM), Unit 1061, Neuropsychiatry, Epidemiological and Clinical Research, La Colombière Hospital, Montpellier, France

    University of Montpellier I, Montpellier, France

    Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, St. Mary's Hospital, London, United Kingdom
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  • Sylvaine Artero
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Sylvaine Artero, Ph.D., Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale, U888, La Colombière Hospital, 34093 Montpellier cedex 5, France
    Affiliations
    Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM), Unit 1061, Neuropsychiatry, Epidemiological and Clinical Research, La Colombière Hospital, Montpellier, France

    University of Montpellier I, Montpellier, France
    Search for articles by this author

      Background

      Corpus callosum (CC) size has been associated with cognitive and emotional deficits in a range of neuropsychiatric and mood disorders. As such deficits are also found in suicidal behavior, we investigated specifically the association between CC atrophy and suicidal behavior.

      Methods

      We studied 435 right-handed individuals without dementia from a cohort of community-dwelling persons aged 65 years and over (the ESPRIT study). They were divided in three groups: suicide attempters (n = 21), affective control subjects (AC) (n = 180) without history of suicide attempt but with a history of depression, and healthy control subjects (HC) (n = 234). T1-weighted magnetic resonance images were traced to measure the midsagittal areas of the anterior, mid, and posterior CC. Multivariate analysis of covariance was used to compare CC areas in the three groups.

      Results

      Multivariate analyses adjusted for age, gender, childhood trauma, head trauma, and total brain volume showed that the area of the posterior third of CC was significantly smaller in suicide attempters than in AC (p = .020) and HC (p = .010) individuals. No significant differences were found between AC and HC. No differences were found for the anterior and mid thirds of the CC.

      Conclusions

      Our findings emphasize a reduced size of the posterior third of the CC in subjects with a history of suicide, suggesting a diminished interhemispheric connectivity and a possible role of CC in the pathophysiology of suicidal behavior. Further studies are needed to strengthen these results and clarify the underlying cellular changes leading to these morphometric differences.

      Key Words

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      Linked Article

      • Evidence for Neurodegeneration and Neuroplasticity as Part of the Neurobiology of Suicide
        Biological PsychiatryVol. 70Issue 4
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          Two manuscripts appear in this issue of Biological Psychiatry involving suicide. Ernst et al. (1) found reduced expression of connexin 30 and connexin 43, which regulate calcium transients in the lateral prefrontal cortex of suicide completers. It is thought that astrocytes express connexins and it is argued that altered connexins affect astrocyte function, which could contribute to suicide. Cyprien et al. (2) found that the size of the caudal third of the corpus callosum was reduced in a group of suicide attempters.
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