The biochemical high-risk paradigm: behavioral and familial correlates of low platelet monoamine oxidase activity

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Science  15 Oct 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4262, pp. 339-341
DOI: 10.1126/science.968488


A population of individuals potentially at risk for psychiatric disorders was identified by screening 375 college student volunteers for low platelet monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity levels. The lower and upper 10 per cent in MAO activity were interviewed and family history data were obtained. Low-MAO probands reported more frequent psychiatric or psychological counseling and problems with the law. Families of low MAO probands had an eightfold increase in the incidence of suicide or suicide attempts over those of high-MAO probands. This suggests that reduced MAO levels, reported previously in patients with affective disorders and chronic schizophrenia, may predict a vulnerability to psychiatric disorder.