Epigenetic mechanisms expressed in basal ganglia GABAergic neurons differentiate schizophrenia from bipolar disorder

Marin Veldic, Bashkim Kadriu, Ekrem Maloku, Roberto C. Agis-Balboa, Alessandro Guidotti, John M. Davis, Erminio Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


In the cerebral prefrontal cortex (PFC), DNA-methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1), the enzyme that catalyzes the methylation of cytosine at carbon atoms in position 5 in CpG dinucleotides, is expressed selectively in GABAergic neurons and is upregulated in layers I and II of schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder patients with psychosis (BDP). To replicate these earlier findings and to verify whether overexpression of DNMT1 and the consequent epigenetic decrease of reelin and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) 67 mRNA expression also occur in GABAergic medium spiny neurons of the caudate nucleus (CN) and putamen (PT) of SZ and BDP, we studied the entire McLean 66 Cohort (Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA) including SZ and BDP, which were matched with nonpsychiatric subjects. The data demonstrate that in GABAergic medium spiny neurons of CN and PT, unlike in GABAergic neurons of layer I and II PFC, the increased expression of DNMT1 and the decrease of reelin and GAD67 occur in SZ but not in BDP. This suggests that different epigenetic mechanisms must exist in the pathogenesis underlying SZ and BDP and implies that these disorders might involve two separate entities that are characterized by a well-defined neuropathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-61
Number of pages11
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Bipolar disorder
  • DNA-methyltransferase 1
  • Epigenetics
  • Glutamic acid decarboxylase
  • Reelin
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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