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Single-nucleus RNA sequencing shows convergent evidence from different cell types for altered synaptic plasticity in major depressive disorder.

By Corina Nagy, Malosree Maitra, Arnaud Tanti, Matthew Suderman, Jean-Francois Théroux, Naguib Mechawar, Jiannis Ragoussis, Gustavo Turecki

Posted 03 Aug 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/384479 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41593-020-0621-y)

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a complex illness that involves the interaction of different brain systems, pathways, and cell types. Past molecular studies of MDD relied on cellular homogenates of post-mortem brain tissue, making it impossible to determine gene expression changes within individual cells. Using single-cell transcriptomics, we examined almost 80,000 nuclei from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of individuals with MDD and healthy controls. Our analyses identified 26 distinct cellular clusters, and over 60% of these showed transcriptional differences between groups. Specifically, 96 genes were differentially expressed, the majority of which were downregulated. Convergent evidence from our analyses, including gene expression, differential correlation, and gene ontology implicated dysregulation of synaptic plasticity in the etiopathogenesis of MDD. Our results show that this high-resolution approach can reveal previously undetectable changes in specific cell types in the context of complex phenotypes and heterogeneous tissues.

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