Differences found in saliva bacteria of students with recent suicidal thoughts - study

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Florida.

An illustrative image of a mouth swab for DNA testing (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
An illustrative image of a mouth swab for DNA testing
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

American students who recently had suicidal thoughts were shown to have different saliva bacteria than those who didn't, according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature last week.

According to the CDC, suicide was the second leading cause of death in America for people ages 10-14 and 25-34. Among 67,000 college students surveyed, 24% of them reported harboring suicidal thoughts, and 9% actually attempted suicide, a 2018 study shows.

Study process

The researchers compared salivary microbiota, or the salivary microbiome, a collection of bacteria in the salivary glands, to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a collection of genes that code for cell proteins essential to the human immune system.

The comparison was made between the experimental group – 47 young adults with "recent suicidal ideation (SI)," accounting for 12.6% of participants, and the control group – 325 young adults "without recent SI," accounting for 87.4% of participants, according to the study.

"Microbial-genetic associations may be important players in the diathesis-stress model for suicidal behaviors."

Study

"Furthermore, rs10437629, previously associated with attempted suicide, was correlated here with SI and the absence of Alloprevotella rava, a producer of an organic acid known to promote brain energy homeostasis," reads the study.

Bacteria (illustrative) (credit: REUTERS)Bacteria (illustrative) (credit: REUTERS)

"Hence, microbial-genetic associations may be important players in the diathesis-stress model for suicidal behaviors," the study said.