Epigenetic studies of psychosis: current findings, methodological approaches, and implications for postmortem research

Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Jan 15;69(2):146-56. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.03.029. Epub 2010 May 26.


It has been widely speculated that epigenetic changes may play a role in the etiology of psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Epigenetics is the study of mitotically heritable, but reversible, changes in gene expression that occur without a change in the genomic DNA sequence, brought about principally through alterations in DNA methylation and chromatin structure. Although numerous studies have examined psychosis-associated gene expression changes in postmortem brain samples, epigenetic studies of psychosis are in their infancy. In this article, we discuss methodologic and logistic issues related to epigenomic studies using postmortem brain tissue, before discussing the future implications of such research for our understanding of psychosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autopsy
  • Bipolar Disorder / metabolism*
  • Bipolar Disorder / physiopathology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Diseases / metabolism
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychiatry / methods
  • Postmortem Changes
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology