Postmortem μ-opioid receptor binding in suicide victims and controls

G. Zalsman, A. Molcho, Y. Huang, A. Dwork, S. Li, J. J. Mann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Endogenous opiates may reinforce self-injurious behavior in animal and human subjects. Higher postmortem μ-opioid receptor binding is reported in some brain regions in young compared with older suicide victims. The present study compared opioid receptor binding kinetics in post-mortem brains of young suicide victims and matched controls in two brain areas. Methods: The density (Bmax) and affinity (KD) of the μ-opioid receptors were assayed postmortem using [3H] DAGO in prefrontal cortex (PFC) and pre-post central gyri (PPCG) in 9 suicide victims and 10 controls, matched for age and gender ratio. Results: Binding indices did not differ between suicide victims and controls in either brain area and did not correlate with age. PFC Bmax was higher than PPCG Bmax (F = 8.030; df = 1,16; p = .012) for the combined sample. There was no brain region difference in KD between PFC and PPCG, but the interaction between KD and group was significant (F = 5.890; df = 1,16; p = .027). The KD in the suicide victims was lower than controls in the PFC and higher than controls in the PPCG. Conclusion: Our study demonstrated more μ-opioid receptors in PFC compared with PPCG binding regardless of suicide status. The region-dependent differences in binding affinity in suicide victims may reflect regionally different opiate transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-954
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Opioid receptors
  • Postmortem
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Receptor binding
  • Suicide


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