Current understanding of psycho-neurobiology in depressive disorders with suicidal thoughts - translational models

Vol. 60 No. 2, 2019


Eduard Nicusor Bondoc, Dragos Marinescu, Ileana Marinescu, Ramona Denise Malin, Liliana Stanca, Roxana Eugenia Zavoi

Epidemiological data confirm the rising incidence of depression associated with suicidal ideation and cardiovascular comorbidities of coronary type. In contradiction with the large number of antidepressant drugs, the therapeutic results are not satisfactory, with numerous existing incomplete remissions characterized by maintained cellular dysfunctionalities that amplify the cognitive deterioration and the risk of several somatic comorbidities. The surprising fact is the relatively high number of deaths in this type of patients due to acute coronary disease (myocardial infarction - MI). The vulnerability of hippocampal and frontal cortex cerebral structures is presented as obtained on animal model consecutive to hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis hyperactivity and on theoretical model where the hypothalamic disconnectivity determines the activation in the sympathetic autonomic nervous system, leading to heart disorders: high blood pressure, left ventricular hypertrophy and coronary illness. Identifying the association of psychological risk factors, patients fitting in a model of psychosomatic dominant personality traits, where the main risk factors are represented by inflexibility, guilt and self-accusation feelings, associated with increase of biological indicators (proinflammatory factors, endothelial dysfunction and cytokine aggressiveness) and neuroimaging indicators (frontal, temporal, hippocampal atrophy, ventriculomegaly, cerebellum atrophy). Changes identified post-mortem in the arterioles from the frontal cortex were found also in the coronary vessels, suggesting a symmetric evolution The highlighted personality factors are responsible for the decrease of adherence and compliance both in the psychiatric and the cardiologic treatment, the patient being exposed to behavioral risks regarding life style and nutrition, factors that increase the risk for acute coronary accident. The psycho-neurobiological inspired theoretical models argument the importance of a differentiated and customized approach of the patients with depressive disorder and suicidal ideation, and they can be the base for initiating strategies for prevention of unfavorable evolution and risk of death by MI.

Corresponding author: Ileana Marinescu, Lecturer, MD, PhD; e-mail:

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