Postmortem brain tissue has been reported to be suitable to delineate regional pattern of possible disturbances underlying epigenetic functionality. However, from many parameters that have been detected in postmortem brain regions it is noteworthy that an effect of postmortem interval (PMI), storage time and premortem parameters should not be underestimated. Our previous investigation revealed that tryptophan (TRP) levels in postmortem brain tissue is affected by PMI and storage time. Since, alteration in TRP levels are assumed to be due to protein degradation, we further investigated whether TRP correlates to variables such as RNA, proteins and DNA modulators. In addition, we aimed to elucidate whether established postmortem variables may influence epigenetic parameters. These were investigated in well characterized postmortem human brain tissue originating from the European Brain Bank consortium II (BNEII). We could confirm previous findings, in which some protein levels alter because of prolonged PMI. Similarly, we demonstrated an influence of increased storage period on TRP levels, which might indicate degradation of proteins. Still not all proteins degrade in a similar manner, therefore a specific analysis for the protein of interest would be recommended. We found that methyltransferase- and acetyltransferase-activities were relatively preserved with PMI and storage duration. In conclusion, preservation of acetyltransferase- and methyltransferase-activities provides possible evidence of stability for epigenetic studies using postmortem tissue.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The neurobiology of suicidal behaviour, which constitutes one of the most serious problems both in psychiatry and general medical practice, still remains to a large degree unclear. As a result, scientists constantly look for new opportunities of explaining the causes underlying suicidality. In order to elucidate the biological changes occurring in the brains of the suicide victims, studies based on post-mortem brain tissue samples are increasingly being used. These studies employ different research methods to provide an insight into abnormalities in brain functioning on various levels, including gene and protein expression, neuroplasticity and neurotransmission, as well as many other areas. The aim of this paper to summarize the available data on the post-mortem studies, to provide an overview of main research directions and the most up-to-date findings, and to indicate the possibilities of further research in this field.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Schizophrenia (SZ) is a major chronic neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by a hyperdopaminergic state. The hypoadenosinergic hypothesis proposes that reduced extracellular adenosine levels contribute to dopamine D2 receptor hyperactivity. ATP, through the action of ecto-nucleotidases, constitutes a main source of extracellular adenosine. In the present study, we examined the activity of ecto-nucleotidases (NTPDases, ecto-5'-nucleotidase, and alkaline phosphatase) in the postmortem putamen of SZ patients (n = 13) compared with aged-matched controls (n = 10). We firstly demonstrated, by means of artificial postmortem delay experiments, that ecto-nucleotidase activity in human brains was stable up to 24 h, indicating the reliability of this tissue for these enzyme determinations. Remarkably, NTPDase-attributable activity (both ATPase and ADPase) was found to be reduced in SZ patients, while ecto-5'-nucleotidase and alkaline phosphatase activity remained unchanged. In the present study, we also describe the localization of these ecto-enzymes in human putamen control samples, showing differential expression in blood vessels, neurons, and glial cells. In conclusion, reduced striatal NTPDase activity may contribute to the pathophysiology of SZ, and it represents a potential mechanism of adenosine signalling impairment in this illness.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human post-mortem brain tissue, mostly provided by brain banks, is precious because most human neurodegenerative diseases are restricted in their complete forms to human beings. However, the agonal state, post-mortem delay between death and tissue processing, variable vulnerability of chromatin, RNAs, proteins and metabolites can compromise the usability of the tissue material. Such factors must be considered and assessed in every experimental approach. The use of controls for comparative purposes to analyze diseased cases is crucial as the basic conditions of controls must be the same as those encountered in problem cases. Age, gender, region, hemisphere, and clear characterisation of objective neuropathological changes (e.g., Alzheimer's disease stages of Braak and Braak) in matching controls and problem cases must be considered in every study, and data must be clearly specified when presenting materials and methods in publications. Additional care must be taken regarding atypical neurodegenerative alterations, concomitant pathologies, and systemic diseases, together with drug consumption and treatments. The absence of neurological and mental symptoms and signs, although a sine qua non condition, is not sufficient to match control and problem cases for research.
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