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Differential Vulnerability of Anterior Cingulate Cortex Cell-Types to Diseases and Drugs

By Rammohan Shukla, Marissa Ann Smail, Sapuni Sureshika Chandrasena, Xiaolu Zhang, Vineet Reddy, Craig Kelley, James Herman, Mohamed Sherif, Robert E McCullumsmith

Posted 28 Oct 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.26.465972

In psychiatric disorders, mismatches between disease-states and therapeutic strategies are highly pronounced, largely because of unanswered questions regarding specific vulnerabilities of different cell-types and therapeutic responses. Which cellular events (housekeeping or salient) are most affected? Which cell-types succumb first to challenges, and which exhibit the strongest response to drugs? Are these events coordinated between cell-types? How does the disease-state and drug affect this coordination? To address these questions, we analyzed single-nucleus-RNAseq (sn-RNAseq) data from the human anterior cingulate cortex- a region involved in many psychiatric disorders. Density index, a metric for quantifying similarities and dissimilarities across functional profiles, was employed to identify common (housekeeping) or salient functional themes across all cell-types. Cell-specific signatures were integrated with existing disease and drug-specific signatures to determine cell-type-specific vulnerabilities, druggabilities, and responsiveness. Clustering of functional profiles revealed cell-types jointly participating in these events. SST and VIP interneurons were found to be most vulnerable, whereas pyramidal neurons were least vulnerable. Overall, the disease-state is superficial layer-centric, largely influences cell-specific salient themes, strongly impacts disinhibitory neurons, and influences astrocyte interaction with a subset of deep-layer pyramidal neurons. Drug activities, on the other hand, are deep layer-centric and involve activating a distinct subset of deep-layer pyramidal neurons to circumvent the disinhibitory circuit malfunctioning in the disease-state. These findings demonstrate a novel application of sn-RNAseq data to explain drug and disease action at a systems level, suggests a targeted drug development and reevaluate various postmortem-based findings.

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