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Perturbations in the apoptotic pathway and mitochondrial network dynamics in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from bipolar disorder patients

journal contribution
posted on 2017-05-01, 00:00 authored by G Scaini, G R Fries, S S Valvassori, C P Zeni, G Zunta-Soares, Michael BerkMichael Berk, J C Soares, J Quevedo
Bipolar disorder (BD) is a severe psychiatric disorder characterized by phasic changes of mood and can be associated with progressive structural brain change and cognitive decline. The numbers and sizes of glia and neurons are reduced in several brain areas, suggesting the involvement of apoptosis in the pathophysiology of BD. Because the changes in mitochondrial dynamics are closely related with the early process of apoptosis and the specific processes of apoptosis and mitochondrial dynamics in BD have not been fully elucidated, we measured the apoptotic pathway and the expression of mitochondrial fission/fusion proteins from BD patients and healthy controls. We recruited 16 patients with BD type I and sixteen well-matched healthy controls and investigated protein levels of several pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic factors, as well as the expression of mitochondrial fission/fusion proteins in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Our results showed that the levels of the anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-xL, survivin and Bcl-xL/Bak dimer were significantly decreased, while active caspase-3 protein levels were significantly increased in PBMCs from BD patients. Moreover, we observed the downregulation of the mitochondrial fusion-related proteins Mfn2 and Opa1 and the upregulation of the fission protein Fis1 in PBMCs from BD patients, both in terms of gene expression and protein levels. We also showed a significantly decrease in the citrate synthase activity. Finally, we found a positive correlation between Mfn2 and Opa1 with mitochondrial content markers, as well as a negative correlation between mitochondrial fission/fusion proteins and apoptotic markers. Overall, data reported here are consistent with the working hypothesis that apoptosis may contribute to cellular dysfunction, brain volume loss and progressive cognitive in BD. Moreover, we show an important relationship between mitochondrial dynamics and the cell death pathway activation in BD patients, supporting the link between mitochondrial dysfunction and the pathophysiology of BD.



Translational psychiatry



Article number



1 - 10


Springer Nature


[New York, N.Y.]





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2017, The Authors