High-resolution Studies of mRNA Expression in Brain : A Search for Genes Differently Expressed in Schizophrenia
Sammanfattning: Gene expression differences between patients and controls can be used to find susceptibility genes and drug targets for a disease. High-resolution strategies are required because the differences between the investigated groups may be small and numerous factors may affect the mRNA quantity. This thesis is based on the use of real-time RT-PCR combined with a new statistical approach, developed to detect small differences between patients and controls and differences due to patient subgroups.Comparisons between human brain biopsy and autopsy samples showed that post-mortem tissue can be used to make conclusions on the relative mRNA levels in the living brain.Power analysis based on human brain mRNA expression from 14 genes adjusted with two reference genes, revealed that a sample size of 50 patients and 50 controls was required to detect a 2-fold difference with a power and a confidence of 95%. A similar study in rats revealed that approximately the same sample size was required for rat brain mRNA expression studies.The mRNA levels of several genes were studied in 55 schizophrenia and 55 control prefrontal brain autopsies, using a novel and more powerful statistical analysis. The serotonin receptor 2C gene (HTR2C) showed a significant 1.5-fold decrease in the patients as compared to controls, and the monoamine oxidase B gene (MAOB) a 1.2-fold increase.The mechanism behind the decrease of HTR2C mRNA levels was investigated by studying the correlation of drug treatment and HTR2C promoter polymorphisms to the HTR2C expression levels. The observed decrease was present in untreated patients, suggesting that the HTR2C mRNA decrease is correlated with the disease and not the treatment. There was no association between promoter polymorphisms and HTR2C expression levels. Thus, the molecular mechanism for the decreased expression remains unclear. Nevertheless, the results support a role for monoaminergic synapses in schizophrenia.
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