Gene regulation by hypoxia and the neurodevelopmental origin of schizophrenia.
ABSTRACT Neurodevelopmental changes may underlie the brain dysfunction seen in schizophrenia. While advances have been made in our understanding of the genetics of schizophrenia, little is known about how non-genetic factors interact with genes for schizophrenia. The present analysis of genes potentially associated with schizophrenia is based on the observation that hypoxia prevails in the embryonic and fetal brain, and that interactions between neuronal genes, molecular regulators of hypoxia, such as hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1), and intrinsic hypoxia occur in the developing brain and may create the conditions for complex changes in neurodevelopment. Consequently, we searched the literature for currently hypothesized candidate genes for susceptibility to schizophrenia that may be subject to ischemia-hypoxia regulation and/or associated with vascular expression. Genes were considered when at least two independent reports of a significant association with schizophrenia had appeared in the literature. The analysis showed that more than 50% of these genes, particularly AKT1, BDNF, CAPON, CCKAR, CHRNA7, CNR1, COMT, DNTBP1, GAD1, GRM3, IL10, MLC1, NOTCH4, NRG1, NR4A2/NURR1, PRODH, RELN, RGS4, RTN4/NOGO and TNF, are subject to regulation by hypoxia and/or are expressed in the vasculature. Future studies of genes proposed as candidates for susceptibility to schizophrenia should include their possible regulation by physiological or pathological hypoxia during development as well as their potential role in cerebral vascular function.
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ABSTRACT: Epidemiological studies suggest that perinatal complications, particularly hypoxia-related ones, increase the risk of schizophrenia. Recent genetic studies of the disorder have identified several putative susceptibility genes, some of which are known to be regulated by hypoxia. It can be postulated therefore that birth complications that cause hypoxia in the fetal brain may be associated with a dysregulation in the expression of some of the schizophrenia candidate genes. To test this, we used an animal model of perinatal asphyxia, in which rat pups were exposed to 15min of intrauterine anoxia during Caesarean section birth, and examined the expression of mRNA of five of the putative susceptibility genes (NRG1, ErbB4, AKT1, COMT and BDNF) by real-time quantitative PCR in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the hippocampus at 6 and 12weeks after birth. The expression of NRG1 mRNA was significantly decreased in the mPFC, but not in the hippocampus, at 6 and 12weeks after birth. In addition, a significant increase in COMT mRNA expression was observed in the mPFC at 12weeks. The alteration in mRNA levels of NRG1 and COMT was not associated with a change in their protein levels. These results suggest that perinatal asphyxia may lead to disturbances in the PFC, which in turn may exert a long-lasting influence on the expression of specific genes, such as NRG1 and COMT. Our results also suggest that translational interruption may occur in this model of perinatal asphyxia.Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 09/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2014.08.002 · 4.03 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Recent genome-wide association studies of schizophrenia reported a novel risk variant, rs2312147 at vaccinia-related kinase 2 gene (VRK2), in multiple Asian and European samples. However, its effect on the brain structure in schizophrenia is little known. We analyzed the brain structure of 36 schizophrenia patients and 18 healthy subjects with regard to rs2312147 genotype groups. Brain magnetic resonance scans for gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) analysis, and genotype analysis for VRK2 rs2312147, were conducted. The Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale and the Digit Symbol Test were assessed for schizophrenia patients. There was no significant difference in either GM volume or WM connectivity with regard to rs2312147 genotype in healthy subjects. In contrast, we found significant differences in the WM connectivity between rs2312147 CC and CT/TT genotype groups of schizophrenia patients. The related brain areas included the splenium of corpus callosum, the left occipital lobe WM, the internal capsule (left anterior limb and right retrolenticular part), the bilateral temporal lobe WM, the left fornix/stria terminalis, the left cingulate gyrus WM, and the left parietal lobe WM. Voxelwise correlation analysis revealed that the Digit Symbol Test scores (age corrected) correlated with the fractional anisotropy in WM tracts that previously showed significant group differences between the CT/TT and CC genotypes in the rs2312147 CT/TT genotype group, while no significant correlation was found in the CC genotype group. Our data may provide evidence for the effect of VRK2 on WM connectivity in patients with schizophrenia.PLoS ONE 07/2014; 9(7):e103519. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0103519 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Several prospective studies indicated perinatal hypoxia as risk factor for psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia. It is thought that hypoxia prior to or during birth may contribute to alterations leading to the protracted clinical manifestation during young adulthood. However, only a small fraction of children with a history of perinatal hypoxia develop later psychotic symptoms, therefore it is not known if hypoxia alone is sufficient to trigger long-term behavioral changes. Here we exposed C57BL/6 mice from Postnatal Day 3-7 (P3-P7) to two established paradigms of chronic mild hypoxia (10% ambient O2), intermittent and continuous. Subsequently, mice were analysed during young adult stages using several basic behavioural tests. Previous studies demonstrated severe, but only transient, cortical damage in these paradigms; it is not clear, if these reversible morphological changes are accompanied by long-term behavioural effects. We found that neither intermittent nor continuous perinatal hypoxia induced long-term behavioral alterations. This may be due to the high regenerative capacity of the perinatal brain. Other possibilities include a potential resistance to perinatal hypoxia of the mouse strain used here or a level of hypoxia that was insufficient to trigger significant behavioral changes. Therefore, our data do not exclude a role of perinatal hypoxia as risk factor for psychiatric disorders. They rather suggest that either other, more severe hypoxic conditions like anoxia, or the presence of additional factors (as genetic risk factors) are necessary for generating long-term behavioral abnormalities.Neuroscience Letters 06/2014; 577. DOI:10.1016/j.neulet.2014.06.022 · 2.06 Impact Factor