06 February 2016 : Clinical Research
Med Sci Monit 2016; 22:397-402
BACKGROUND: Although genetic factors are risk factors for schizophrenia, some environmental factors are thought to be required for the manifestation of disease. Epigenetic mechanisms regulate gene functions without causing a change in the nucleotide sequence of DNA. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a neurotrophin that regulates synaptic transmission and plasticity. It has been suggested that BDNF may play a role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. It is established that methylation status of the BDNF gene is associated with fear learning, memory, and stressful social interactions. In this study, we aimed to investigate the DNA methylation status of BDNF gene in patients with schizophrenia.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: The study included 49 patients (33 male and 16 female) with schizophrenia and 65 unrelated healthy controls (46 male and 19 female). Determination of methylation pattern of CpG islands was based on the principle that bisulfite treatment of DNA results in conversion of unmethylated cytosine residues into uracil, whereas methylated cytosine residues remain unmodified. Methylation-specific PCR was performed with primers specific for either methylated or unmethylated DNA.
RESULTS: There was no significant difference in methylated or un-methylated status for BDNF promoters between schizophrenia patients and controls. The mean duration of illness was significantly lower in the hemi-methylated group compared to the non-methylated group for BDNF gene CpG island-1 in schizophrenia patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Although there were no differences in BDNF gene methylation status between schizophrenia patients and healthy controls, there was an association between duration of illness and DNA methylation.
Keywords: Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor - genetics, Case-Control Studies, CpG Islands, DNA Methylation, DNA Primers, Epigenomics, Polymerase Chain Reaction - methods, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Schizophrenia - genetics
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