Cigarette smoking is associated with suicide and mood disorders and stimulates serotonin release. Tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH2) synthesizes serotonin and is over-expressed in suicides. We determined whether smoking is associated with TPH2 mRNA in suicides and controls. TPH2 mRNA was measured postmortem in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) of controls (N = 26, 17 nonsmokers and nine smokers) and suicides (N = 23, 5 nonsmokers and 18 smokers). Psychiatric history was obtained by psychological autopsy. TPH2 mRNA was greater in suicide nonsmokers than suicide smokers, control smokers and control nonsmokers (p = 0.006). There was more TPH2 mRNA throughout the DRN. Smoking interferes with the TPH2 mRNA increase observed in suicide nonsmokers. The absence of altered TPH2 expression in non-suicide smokers suggests no pharmacological effect of smoking.
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