Altered expression of genes involved in inflammation and apoptosis in frontal cortex in major depression

Mol Psychiatry. 2011 Jul;16(7):751-62. doi: 10.1038/mp.2010.52. Epub 2010 May 18.


The etiology of major depression (MDD), a common and complex disorder, remains obscure. Gene expression profiling was conducted on post-mortem brain tissue samples from Brodmann Area 10 (BA10) in the prefrontal cortex from psychotropic drug-free persons with a history of MDD and age, gender, and post-mortem interval-matched normal controls (n=14 pairs of subjects). Microarray analysis was conducted using the Affymetrix Exon 1.0 ST arrays. A set of differential expression changes was determined by dual-fold change-probability criteria (∣average log ratios∣>0.585 [equivalent to a 1.5-fold difference in either direction], P<0.01), whereas molecular pathways of interest were evaluated using Gene Set Enrichment Analysis software. The results strongly implicate increased apoptotic stress in the samples from the MDD group. Three anti-apoptotic factors, Y-box-binding protein 1, caspase-1 dominant-negative inhibitor pseudo-ICE, and the putative apoptosis inhibitor FKGS2, were over-expressed. Gene set analysis suggested up-regulation of a variety of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin 1α (IL-1α), IL-2, IL-3, IL-5, IL-8, IL-9, IL-10, IL-12A, IL-13, IL-15, IL-18, interferon gamma (IFNγ), and lymphotoxin α (TNF superfamily member 1). The genes showing reduced expression included metallothionein 1M (MT1M), a zinc-binding protein with a significant function in the modulation of oxidative stress. The results of this study indicate that post-mortem brain tissue samples from BA10, a region that is involved in reward-related behavior, show evidence of local inflammatory, apoptotic, and oxidative stress in MDD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / pathology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / metabolism*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Statistics as Topic


  • Cytokines