A new study has found that the reduced activity of an important inflammatory enzyme is common among people with suicidal tendencies.

In the study published in Translational Psychiatry, the Australia, U.S. and Sweden teams who collaborated for the research wrote that the low activity of ACMSD, the enzyme that regulates inflammation and its byproducts, is evident in suicide patients they tested.

“We believe that people who have reduced activity of the enzyme are especially vulnerable to developing depression and suicidal tendencies when they suffer from various infections or inflammation. We also believe that inflammation is likely to easily become chronic in people with impaired activity of ACMSD,” Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan professor Lena Brundin, who is one of the researchers, stated. 

As part of the research, the scientists analyzed the metabolites and byproducts present in the blood and spinal fluid during bouts of infection and inflammation of their patients, since people with suicidal tendencies typically have inflammation in these fluids, according to Science Blog

Healthy people have normal ACMSD activity which leads to a balance in the production of picolinic acid and quinolinic acid. Among the suicide patients the researchers tested however, the production of the acids in the plasma and spinal fluid are unstable. 

With this knowledge, the scientists now want to further their study and determine whether this finding is only present in people with suicidal thoughts or if this also occurs among severely depressed patients, EurekAlert has learned. 

Apart from Brundin, other scientists who were involved in the collaborative study are Sophie Erhardt, Mikael Landen, Carl M. Sellgren, Erik Palsson, Christina Lundgren, Jamie Grit, Chai K. Lim, Martin  Sameulsson, Patrik Brundin, Gilles J. Guillemin, Dietmar Fuchs, Lil Träskman-Bendz and Teodor T. Postolache. 

The research was funded by several instituions, including the National Institute of Mental Health, the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition of the University of Maryland, the Swedish Research Council and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.