An increasing body of evidence indicates a role for oligomers of the amyloid-? peptide (A?) in the neurotoxicity of this peptide and the pathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Several neurotoxic oligomeric forms of A? have been noted ranging from the larger Amyloid ?-Derived Diffusible Ligands (ADDLs) to smaller trimers and dimers of A?. More recently a dodecameric form of A? with a 56 kDa molecular weight, denoted A?*56, was shown to cause memory impairment in AD model mice.
The serotonin-2A (HTR2A) receptor is a molecule of particular interest in biological psychiatry, as it is an important target for psychotropic drugs, and altered HTR2A expression has been found in several neuropsychiatric conditions, including depression and schizophrenia. Genetic association has been reported between a synonymous 102T/C polymorphism in the gene encoding HTR2A and a number of clinical phenotypes, including schizophrenia, clozapine response, psychotic symptoms in Alzheimer's disease and certain features of depression.
Methylation and other covalent modifications of nucleosome core histones are key regulators of chromatin structure and function, including epigenetic control of gene expression. For the human brain, however, very little is known about the regulation of histone modifications at specific genomic loci. Furthermore, chromatin immunoprecipitation protocols applicable to postmortem tissue are lacking, and the impact of potential confounds such as autolysis time or tissue pH is unknown.
Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the CNS that is cleared from the extracellular space by a family of high-affinity glutamate transporters. The astroglial glutamate transporter EAAT2 is thought to carry out the uptake of the vast quantity of glutamate, and dysregulation of EAAT2 expression is involved in the pathogenesis of neurological disorders with marked excitotoxic components. Here, we present a novel epigenetic mechanism by which the human EAAT2 gene is kept in a silent state. Sequence inspection identified a classical CpG island at the EAAT2 promoter.
The epigenetic marking of chromatin provides a ubiquitous means for cells to shape and maintain their identity, and to react to environmental stimuli via specific remodeling. Such an epigenetic code of the core components of chromatin, DNA and histone proteins, can thus be stable but is also highly dynamic. In the nervous system, epigenetic codes are critical for basic cellular processes such as synaptic plasticity, and for complex behaviours such as learning and memory.
Alterations in RNA levels are frequently reported in brain of subjects diagnosed with autism, schizophrenia, depression, and other psychiatric diseases, but it remains unclear whether the underlying molecular pathology involves changes in gene expression, as opposed to alterations in messenger RNA processing. Pre-clinical studies have revealed that stress, drugs, and a variety of other environmental factors lead to changes in RNA levels in brain via epigenetic mechanisms, including modification of histone proteins.
Chronic neuropsychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disease and autism are thought to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors that might result in epigenetic alterations of gene expression and other molecular pathology. Traditionally, however, expression studies in postmortem brain were confined to quantification of mRNA or protein. The limitations encountered in postmortem brain research such as variabilities in autolysis time and tissue integrities are also likely to impact any studies of higher order chromatin structures.
Neurons in the human brain become postmitotic largely during prenatal development, and thus maintain their nuclei throughout the full lifespan. However, little is known about changes in neuronal chromatin and nuclear organization during the course of development and aging, or in chronic neuropsychiatric disease. However, to date most chromatin and DNA based assays (other than FISH) lack single cell resolution.
Journal of Neural Transmission (Vienna, Austria: 1996)
NMDA receptors and especially the NR2B receptor subtype play a crucial role during chronic ethanol consumption and alcohol withdrawal. Therefore, the NR2B receptor subtype expression in peripheral blood cells of 32 male patients suffering from alcohol dependency were assessed through quantitative RT-PCR and to explore regulating epigenetic mechanisms, a methylation analysis was conducted using bisulfite sequencing of a fragment of the NR2B promoter region.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with a high rate of developing serious medical comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, dementia, osteoporosis, diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome. These are conditions that typically occur late in life, and it has been suggested that MDD may be associated with "accelerated aging." We review several moderators and mediators that may accompany MDD and that may give rise to these comorbid medical conditions.