PCOM Library / Hot Topics in Research / Hot Topics: Common Gene Sets Link Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression, and Schizophrenia

Hot Topics: Common Gene Sets Link Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression, and Schizophrenia

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, January, Mood Disorders, Psychology and Psychiatry, Schizophrenia

Consistently altered expression of gene sets in postmortem brains of individuals with major psychiatric disorders

Darby M,M., Yolken R,H., Sabunciyan S. Consistently altered expression of gene sets in postmortem brains of individuals with major psychiatric disorders. Transl Psychiatry. 2016;6:e890. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/tp.2016.173.

The measurement of gene expression in postmortem brain is an important tool for understanding the pathogenesis of serious psychiatric disorders. We hypothesized that major molecular deficits associated with psychiatric disease would affect the entire brain, and such deficits may be shared across disorders. We performed RNA sequencing and quantified gene expression in the hippocampus of 100 brains in the Stanley Array Collection followed by replication in the orbitofrontal cortex of 57 brains in the Stanley Neuropathology Consortium. We then identified genes and canonical pathway gene sets with significantly altered expression in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in the hippocampus and in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression in the orbitofrontal cortex. Although expression of individual genes varied, gene sets were significantly enriched in both of the brain regions, and many of these were consistent across diagnostic groups. Further examination of core gene sets with consistently increased or decreased expression in both of the brain regions and across target disorders revealed that ribosomal genes are overexpressed while genes involved in neuronal processes, GABAergic signaling, endocytosis and antigen processing have predominantly decreased expression in affected individuals compared to controls without a psychiatric disorder. Our results highlight pathways of central importance to psychiatric health and emphasize messenger RNA processing and protein synthesis as potential therapeutic targets for all three of the disorders.