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Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(1):75-81.

Subjects with major depression or bipolar disorder show reduction of prodynorphin mRNA expression in discrete nuclei of the amygdaloid complex.

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Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Psychiatry Section, Karolinska Hospital, S-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden.


The dynorphin system has been associated with the regulation of mood. The expression of the prodynorphin mRNA was currently studied in the amygdaloid complex, a brain region critical for emotional processing, in subjects (14-15 per group) diagnosed with major depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia and compared to normal controls. In situ hybridization histochemistry was used to characterize the anatomical distribution and expression levels of the prodynorphin mRNA within the amygdaloid complex. High prodynorphin mRNA levels were expressed in the parvicellular division of the accessory basal, posterior cortical, periamygdaloid cortex, and amygdalohippocampal area in normal subjects. Individuals with major depression had significantly reduced (41-68%) expression of the prodynorphin mRNA in the accessory basal (both parvicellular and magnocellular divisions; P < 0.01) and amygdalohippocampal area (P < 0.001) as compared to controls. The bipolar disorder group also showed a significant reduction (37-38%, P < 0.01) of the mRNA expression levels in the amygdalohippocampal area and in the parvicellular division of the accessory basal. No other amygdala nuclei studied showed any significant differences for the prodynorphin mRNA levels measured in the major depression and bipolar disorder subjects. Additionally, the prodynorphin mRNA expression levels did not differ significantly between the schizophrenic and normal control subjects in any of the amygdala areas examined. These findings indicate specific prodynorphin amygdala impairment in association with mood disorder.

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