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Pharmacogenomics J. 2005;5(5):298-304.

Antipsychotic drugs activate SREBP-regulated expression of lipid biosynthetic genes in cultured human glioma cells: a novel mechanism of action?

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Dr Einar Martens' Research Group for Biological Psychiatry and Bergen Mental Health Research Center, Section for Medical Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Bergen, Norway.


Several studies have reported on structural abnormalities, decreased myelination and oligodendrocyte dysfunction in post-mortem brains from schizophrenic patients. Glia-derived cholesterol is essential for both myelination and synaptogenesis in the CNS. Lipogenesis and myelin synthesis are thus interesting etiological candidate targets in schizophrenia. Using a microarray approach, we here demonstrate that the antipsychotic drugs clozapine and haloperidol upregulate several genes involved in cholesterol and fatty acid biosynthesis in cultured human glioma cells, including HMGCR (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase), HMGCS1 (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A synthase-1), FASN (fatty acid synthase) and SCD (stearoyl-CoA desaturase). The changes in gene expression were followed by enhanced HMGCR-enzyme activity and elevated cellular levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. The upregulated genes are all known to be controlled by the sterol regulatory element-binding protein (SREBP) transcription factors. We show that clozapine and haloperidol both activate the SREBP system. The antipsychotic-induced SREBP-mediated increase in glial cell lipogenesis could represent a novel mechanism of action, and may also be relevant for the metabolic side effects of antipsychotics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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