Gene expression alterations in bipolar disorder postmortem brains

Haiming Chen, Nulang Wang, Xin Zhao, Christopher A. Ross, K. Sue O'Shea, Melvin Mcinnis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Bipolar disorder (BD) is a mental illness of unknown neuropathology and has several genetic associations. Antipsychotics are effective for the treatment of acute mania, psychosis, or mixed states in individuals with BD. We aimed to identify gene transcripts differentially expressed in postmortem brains from antipsychotics-exposed individuals with BD (hereafter the 'exposed' group), non-exposed individuals with BD (hereafter the 'non-exposed' group), and controls. Methods: We quantified the abundance of gene transcripts in postmortem brains from seven exposed individuals, seven non-exposed individuals, and 12 controls with the Affymetrix U133P2 GeneChip microarrays and technologies. We applied a q-value of ≤0.005 to identify statistically significant transcripts with mean abundance differences between the exposed, non-exposed and control groups. Results: We identified 2191 unique genes with significantly altered expression levels in non-exposed brains compared to those in the control and exposed groups. The expression levels of these genes were not significantly different between exposed brains and controls, suggesting a normalization effect of antipsychotics on the expression of these genes. Gene ontology (GO) enrichment analysis showed significant (Bonferroni p≤0.05) clustering of subgroups of the 2191 genes under many GO terms; notably, the protein products of genes enriched are critical to the function of synapses, affecting, for example, intracellular trafficking and synaptic vesicle biogenesis, transport, release and recycling, as well as organization and stabilization of the node of Ranvier. Conclusions: These results support a hypothesis of synaptic and intercellular communication impairment in BD. The apparent normalization of expression patterns with exposure to antipsychotic medication may represent a physiological process that relates both to etiology and improvement patterns of the disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-187
Number of pages11
JournalBipolar Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Antipsychotics
  • Microarray
  • Synapse
  • Transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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