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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2003 Oct 21;118(1-2):60-71.

Quantifying mRNA in postmortem human brain: influence of gender, age at death, postmortem interval, brain pH, agonal state and inter-lobe mRNA variance.

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Seixo Branco, Rua das Branas 7-Bajo-D, 15177 Mera, A Coruña, Galicia, Spain.


The quantification of mRNA in postmortem human brain is often made complicated by confounding factors. To assess the importance of potential confounders TaqMan real-time RT-PCR was used to measure seven mRNAs (beta-actin, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), cyclophilin, microtubule-associated protein (MAP) 2, neuron-specific enolase (NSE), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), amyloid precursor protein (APP) isoform 770) in cortical samples taken from 90 Alzheimer's disease (AD) and 81 control brains. Demographic data for the brain samples were assessed for interaction between factors and amounts of mRNA. Gender was found to play a role in that females had lower levels of mRNA relative to males; this was consistent in both the AD and control brains. Age at death had inconsistent but significant correlations to amounts of mRNA; male and female controls both had negative correlations, female AD a positive correlation and male AD no correlation. Positive correlations were found between brain pH and amount of mRNA in all genes except glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP); correlations were consistent across all groupings of pathology and gender. Mean brain pH was significantly lower in AD (6.4) than in control subjects (6.5, ANOVA, p<0.01), though there was no difference between male and females of either group. No correlation was found between brain pH and age at death. Postmortem interval was correlated with brain pH in Alzheimer's disease brains but not controls. Agonal state was generally a poor predictor of mRNA levels whilst inter-lobe variance of mRNA was found to be non-significant in control brains. Given that gender, age at death and brain pH all have significant effects upon mRNA levels it is recommended that these factors be taken into account when quantifying gene expression in postmortem human brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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