Selection of candidate housekeeping genes for normalization in human postmortem brain samples

Int J Mol Sci. 2011;12(9):5461-70. doi: 10.3390/ijms12095461. Epub 2011 Aug 26.


The most frequently used technique to study the expression profile of genes involved in common neurological disorders is quantitative real-time RT-PCR, which allows the indirect detection of very low amounts of selected mRNAs in tissue samples. Expression analysis by RT-qPCR requires an appropriate normalization to the expression level of genes characterized by a stable, constitutive transcription. However, the identification of a gene transcribed at a very stable level is difficult if not impossible, since significant fluctuations of the level of mRNA synthesis often accompanies changes of cell behavior. The aim of this study is to identify the most stable genes in postmortem human brain samples of patients affected by Alzheimer's disease (AD) suitable as reference genes. The experiments analyzed 12 commonly used reference genes in brain samples from eight individuals with AD and seven controls. After a careful analysis of the results calculated by geNorm and NormFinder algorithms, we found that CYC1 and EIF4A2 are the best reference genes. We remark on the importance of the determination of the best reference genes for each sample to be analyzed and suggest a practical combination of reference genes to be used in the analysis of human postmortem samples.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; NormFinder; geNorm; quantitative real-time RT-PCR; reference genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cytochromes c1 / genetics
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4A / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Gene Expression Profiling / standards*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmortem Changes*
  • Reference Standards
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Cytochromes c1
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4A