May 14 (UPI) -- Elevated levels of a certain brain biomarker may increase chances for suicide attempts in people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a study says.
People with both PTSD and suicidal thoughts have higher levels of metabotropic glutamatergic receptor 5 in their brains compared to those without suicidal thoughts, according to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. No elevated levels were found in PTSD sufferers with depression, whether that person had suicidal thoughts or not.
The researchers say testing for the marker could help identify patients at risk and prevent suicides, in addition to the marker possibly leading to new treatment methods for PTSD and suicidal ideation.
"If you have people who suffer from high blood pressure, you want to reduce those levels right away," Irina Esterlis, associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University and study senior author, said in a news release.
To gather this data, the researchers used PET scans to measure metabotropic glutamatergic receptor 5 in the brains of patients with major depressive disorder and PTSD. The receptor is associated with anxiety and depressive disorders.
The researchers think measuring and reducing metabotropic glutamatergic receptor 5 levels in the brains of people who've suffered traumatic brain injuries may help reduce suicide attempts.
These findings are important because suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.