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Neuroscience. 2005;133(2):453-61.

Glial fibrillary acidic protein mRNA levels in the cingulate cortex of individuals with depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

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Stanley Lab of Brain Research, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD 20814-4799, USA.


Recent studies have shown a decrease in glial number and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) levels in the frontal and cingulate cortices of individuals with mood disorders and schizophrenia. In an attempt to verify and expand these findings we examined GFAP messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) levels in postmortem sections of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) from the Stanley Neuropathology Consortium (SNC). The consortium consists of 15 cases in each of four groups (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, non-psychotic depression and unaffected controls). By in situ hybridization, we found higher levels of GFAP mRNA in white matter and at the pial surface as compared with gray matter levels in all cases. In the white matter of ACC we detected a significant effect of diagnosis (P<0.04) with GFAP mRNA levels decreased in individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as compared with normal controls. In the gray matter there was a significant effect of layer (P<0.01) with the highest levels of GFAP mRNA in layer VI in all groups. As in the white matter, the mean GFAP mRNA levels were decreased in individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as compared with the unaffected controls, however the difference failed to reach statistical significance. Thus, astrocytes positive for GFAP may contribute to the decrease in glial density previously described in subjects with major mental illness, however the relative contribution of astrocytes may vary with diagnosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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