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Schizophr Res. 2007 Jul;93(1-3):33-41. Epub 2007 Apr 17.

DNA fragmentation is increased in non-GABAergic neurons in bipolar disorder but not in schizophrenia.

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  • 1Laboratories for Structural Neuroscience, McLean Hospital, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, United States; Program in Neuroscience and Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States.


Apoptosis is thought to contribute to neuronal loss in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, although empiric evidence in support of this idea has been lacking. In this study, we investigated whether or not apoptosis is associated with GABAergic interneurons in the anterior cingulate cortex in schizophrenia (n=14) and bipolar disorder (n=14) when compared to normal controls (n=14). A double-labeling technique using the Klenow method of in situ end-labeling (ISEL) of single-stranded DNA breaks was combined with an in situ hybridization localization of mRNA for the 67 kDa isoform of glutamate decarboxylase (GAD67) and applied to the anterior cingulate cortex of 14 normal controls, 14 schizophrenics, and 14 patients with bipolar disorder matched for age and postmortem interval. An increase in Klenow-positive, GAD67-negative nuclei were observed in layer V/VI of patients with bipolar disorder, but not schizophrenics. Klenow-positive cells that were also positive for GAD67 mRNA did not show differences in either patient group.


This is the first demonstration that there is more DNA fragmentation in cells showing no detectable GAD67 mRNA in patients with bipolar disorder than in schizophrenics or controls. These findings suggest that non-GABAergic cells may be selectively vulnerable to oxidative stress in patients with bipolar disorder.

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