Elevated peripheral expression of neuregulin-1 (NRG1) mRNA isoforms in clozapine-treated schizophrenia patients

Md Shaki Mostaid, Ting Ting Lee, Gursharan Chana, Suresh Sundram, Cynthia Shannon Weickert, Christos Pantelis, Ian Everall, Chad Bousman

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Differential expression of neuregulin-1 (NRG1) mRNA isoforms and proteins has been reported in schizophrenia, primarily in post-mortem brain tissue. In this study, we examined 12 NRG1 SNPs, eight NRG1 mRNA isoforms (type I, type I(Ig2), type II, type III, type IV, EGFα, EGFβ, pan-NRG1) in whole blood, and NRG1-β1 protein in serum of clozapine-treated schizophrenia patients (N = 71) and healthy controls (N = 57). In addition, using cultured peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 15 healthy individuals, we examined the effect of clozapine on NRG1 mRNA isoform and protein expression. We found elevated levels of NRG1 mRNA, specifically the EGFα (P = 0.0175), EGFβ (P = 0.002) and type I(Ig2) (P = 0.023) containing transcripts, but lower NRG1-β1 serum protein levels (P = 0.019) in schizophrenia patients compared to healthy controls. However, adjusting for smoking status attenuated the difference in NRG1-β1 serum levels (P = 0.050). Examination of clinical factors showed NRG1 EGFα (P = 0.02) and EGFβ (P = 0.02) isoform expression was negatively correlated with age of onset. However, we found limited evidence that NRG1 mRNA isoform or protein expression was associated with current chlorpromazine equivalent dose or clozapine plasma levels, the latter corroborated by our PBMC clozapine exposure experiment. Our SNP analysis found no robust expression quantitative trait loci. Our results represent the first comprehensive investigation of NRG1 isoforms and protein expression in the blood of clozapine-treated schizophrenia patients and suggest levels of some NRG1 transcripts are upregulated in those with schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1280
Number of pages10
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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