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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 687575, 22 pages
Review Article

The Role of Neuropeptides in Suicidal Behavior: A Systematic Review

1Department of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Sensory Organs, Suicide Prevention Center, Sant’Andrea Hospital, Sapienza University of Rome, 1035-1039 Via di Grottarossa, 00189 Rome, Italy
2Department of Clinical Sciences, Section of Psychiatry, Lund University, SE-221 85 Lund, Sweden
3Psychiatric Institute, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, USA

Received 27 April 2013; Revised 1 July 2013; Accepted 3 July 2013

Academic Editor: Rajnish Chaturvedi

Copyright © 2013 Gianluca Serafini et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


There is a growing evidence that neuropeptides may be involved in the pathophysiology of suicidal behavior. A critical review of the literature was conducted to investigate the association between neuropeptides and suicidal behavior. Only articles from peer-reviewed journals were selected for the inclusion in the present review. Twenty-six articles were assessed for eligibility but only 22 studies were included. Most studies have documented an association between suicidality and some neuropeptides such as corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), VGF, cholecystokinin, substance P, and neuropeptide Y (NPY), which have been demonstrated to act as key neuromodulators of emotional processing. Significant differences in neuropeptides levels have been found in those who have attempted or completed suicide compared with healthy controls or those dying from other causes. Despite cross-sectional associations between neuropeptides levels and suicidal behavior, causality may not be inferred. The implications of the mentioned studies were discussed in this review paper.