Diurnal rhythms in gene expression in the prefrontal cortex in schizophrenia

Nat Commun. 2019 Aug 9;10(1):3355. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11335-1.


Schizophrenia is associated with disrupted cognitive control and sleep-wake cycles. Here we identify diurnal rhythms in gene expression in the human dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), in schizophrenia and control subjects. We find significant diurnal (24 h) rhythms in control subjects, however, most of these transcripts are not rhythmic in subjects with schizophrenia. Instead, subjects with schizophrenia have a different set of rhythmic transcripts. The top pathways identified in transcripts rhythmic only in subjects with schizophrenia are associated with mitochondrial function. Importantly, these rhythms drive differential expression patterns of these and several other genes that have long been implicated in schizophrenia (including BDNF and GABAergic-related transcripts). Indeed, differential expression of these transcripts is only seen in subjects that died during the night, with no change in subjects that died during the day. These data provide insights into a potential mechanism that underlies changes in gene expression in the dlPFC with schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / pathology
  • Schizophrenia / genetics*
  • Schizophrenia / pathology
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA


  • Antipsychotic Agents