Year: 2023 Source: Research Square. (2023). 1-15. DOI: SIEC No: 20231841
American Indians (AI) demonstrate the highest rates of both suicidal behaviors (SB) and alcohol use disorders (AUD) among all ethnic groups in the US. Rates of suicide and AUD vary substantially between tribal groups and across different geographical regions, underscoring a need to delineate more specific risk and resilience factors. Using data from over 740 AI living within eight contiguous reservations, we assessed genetic risk factors for SB by investigating: (1) possible genetic overlap with AUD, and (2) impacts of rare and low frequency genomic variants. Suicidal behaviors included lifetime history of suicidal thoughts and acts, including verified suicide deaths, scored using a ranking variable for the SB phenotype (range 0-4). We identified five loci significantly associated with SB and AUD, two of which are intergenic and three intronic on genes AACSP1 , ANK1 , and FBXO11 . Nonsynonymous rare mutations in four genes including SERPINF1 (PEDF), ZNF30 , CD34 , and SLC5A9 , and non-intronic rare mutations in genes OPRD1 , HSD17B3 and one lincRNA were significantly associated with SB. One identified pathway related to hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) regulation, whose 83 nonsynonymous rare variants on 10 genes were significantly linked to SB as well. Four additional genes, and two pathways related to vasopressin-regulated water metabolism and cellular hexose transport, also were strongly associated with SB. This study represents the first investigation of genetic factors for SB in an American Indian population that has high risk for suicide. Our study suggests that bivariate association analysis between comorbid disorders can increase statistical power; and rare variant analysis in a high-risk population enabled by whole-genome sequencing has the potential to identify novel genetic factors. Although such findings may be population specific, rare functional mutations relating to PEDF and HIF regulation align with past reports and suggest a biological mechanism for suicide risk and a potential therapeutic target for intervention.