Biological bases of suicidal behaviours: A narrative review
Lengvenyte, A., Conejero, I., Courtet, P., & Olie, E.
Suicidal behaviour is a multifaceted phenomenon that concerns all human populations. It has been suggested that a complex interaction between the individual genetic profile and environmental factors throughout life underlies the pathophysiology of suicidal behaviour. Although epidemiological and genetic studies suggest the existence of a genetic component, exposure to biological and psychosocial adversities, especially during critical developmental periods, also contributes to altering the biological responses to threat and pleasure. This results in amplified maladaptive cognitive and behavioural traits and states associated with suicidal behaviours. Alterations in the cognitive inhibition and decision-making capacity have been implicated in suicidal behaviours. Structural and functional changes in key brain regions and networks, such as prefrontal cortex, insula and default mode network, may underlie this relationship. Furthermore, the shift from health to suicidal behaviour incorporates complex and dynamic changes in the immune and stress responses, monoaminergic system, gonadal system and neuroplasticity. In this review, we describe the major findings of epidemiological, genetic, neuroanatomical, neuropsychological, immunological and neuroendocrinological studies on suicide behaviours to provide a solid background for future research in this field. This broad overview of the biological bases of suicide should promote neuroscience research on suicidal behaviours. This might lead to improved biological models and to the identification of evidence-based biomarkers, treatment options and preventive strategies.