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Neuroscience DOI:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.01.041

Epigenetic mechanisms in mood disorders: targeting neuroplasticity.

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsFass, DM, Schroeder, FA, Perlis, RH, Haggarty, SJ
Date Published2014 Apr 04
KeywordsAnimals, Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly, Disease Models, Animal, Epigenesis, Genetic, Humans, Mice, Mood Disorders, Neuronal Plasticity, Rats

Developing novel therapeutics and diagnostic tools based upon an understanding of neuroplasticity is critical in order to improve the treatment and ultimately the prevention of a broad range of nervous system disorders. In the case of mood disorders, such as major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BPD), where diagnoses are based solely on nosology rather than pathophysiology, there exists a clear unmet medical need to advance our understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms and to develop fundamentally new mechanism experimental medicines with improved efficacy. In this context, recent preclinical molecular, cellular, and behavioral findings have begun to reveal the importance of epigenetic mechanisms that alter chromatin structure and dynamically regulate patterns of gene expression that may play a critical role in the pathophysiology of mood disorders. Here, we will review recent advances involving the use of animal models in combination with genetic and pharmacological probes to dissect the underlying molecular mechanisms and neurobiological consequence of targeting this chromatin-mediated neuroplasticity. We discuss evidence for the direct and indirect effects of mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics, among their many other effects, on chromatin-modifying enzymes and on the epigenetic state of defined genomic loci, in defined cell types and in specific regions of the brain. These data, as well as findings from patient-derived tissue, have also begun to reveal alterations of epigenetic mechanisms in the pathophysiology and treatment of mood disorders. We summarize growing evidence supporting the notion that selectively targeting chromatin-modifying complexes, including those containing histone deacetylases (HDACs), provides a means to reversibly alter the acetylation state of neuronal chromatin and beneficially impact neuronal activity-regulated gene transcription and mood-related behaviors. Looking beyond current knowledge, we discuss how high-resolution, whole-genome methodologies, such as RNA-sequencing (RNA-Seq) for transcriptome analysis and chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-Seq) for analyzing genome-wide occupancy of chromatin-associated factors, are beginning to provide an unprecedented view of both specific genomic loci as well as global properties of chromatin in the nervous system. These methodologies when applied to the characterization of model systems, including those of patient-derived induced pluripotent cell (iPSC) and induced neurons (iNs), will greatly shape our understanding of epigenetic mechanisms and the impact of genetic variation on the regulatory regions of the human genome that can affect neuroplasticity. Finally, we point out critical unanswered questions and areas where additional data are needed in order to better understand the potential to target mechanisms of chromatin-mediated neuroplasticity for novel treatments of mood and other psychiatric disorders.


Alternate JournalNeuroscience
PubMed ID23376737
PubMed Central IDPMC3830721
Grant ListR01 DA028301 / DA / NIDA NIH HHS / United States