Our Works

Here you can find some of our publications in international, peer-reviewed journals

Epigenetics in Schizophrenia: A Pilot Study of Global DNA Methylation in Different Brain Regions Associated with Higher Cognitive Functions

Attempts to discover genes that are involved in the pathogenesis of major psychiatric disorders have been frustrating and often fruitless. Concern is building about the need to understand the complex ways in which nature and nurture interact to produce mental illness. We analyze the epigenome in several brain regions from schizophrenic patients with severe cognitive impairment using high-resolution (450K) DNA methylation array. We identified 139 differentially methylated CpG sites included in known and novel candidate genes sequences as well as in and intergenic sequences which functions remain unknown. We found that altered DNA methylation is not restricted to a particular region, but includes others such as CpG shelves and gene bodies, indicating the presence of different DNA methylation signatures depending on the brain area analyzed. Our findings suggest that epimutations are not relatables between different tissues or even between tissues’ regions, highlighting the need to adequately study brain samples to obtain reliable data concerning the epigenetics of schizophrenia.

From Linkage Studies to Epigenetics: What We Know and What We Need to Know in the Neurobiology of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a complex psychiatric disorder characterized by the presence of positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms that lacks a unifying neuropathology. In the present paper, we will review the current understanding of molecular dysregulation in schizophrenia, including genetic and epigenetic studies. In relation to the latter, basic research suggests that normal cognition is regulated by epigenetic mechanisms and its dysfunction occurs upon epigenetic misregulation, providing new insights into missing heritability of complex psychiatric diseases, referring to the discrepancy between epidemiological heritability and the proportion of phenotypic variation explained by DNA sequence difference. In schizophrenia the absence of consistently replicated genetic effects together with evidence for lasting changes in gene expression after environmental exposures suggest a role of epigenetic mechanisms. In this review we will focus on epigenetic modifications as a key mechanism through which environmental factors interact with individual’s genetic constitution to affect risk of psychotic conditions throughout life.

Rethinking the Epigenetic Framework to Unravel the Molecular Pathology of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder whose causes are still far from being known. Although researchers have focused on genetic or environmental contributions to the disease, we still lack a scientific framework that joins molecular and clinical findings. Epigenetic can explain how environmental variables may affect gene expression without modifying the DNA sequence. In fact, neuroepigenomics represents an effort to unify the research available on the molecular pathology of mental diseases, which has been carried out through several approaches ranging from interrogating single DNA methylation events and hydroxymethylation patterns, to epigenome-wide association studies, as well as studying post-translational modifications of histones, or nucleosomal positioning. The high dependence on tissues with epigenetic marks compels scientists to refine their sampling procedures, and in this review, we will focus on findings obtained from brain tissue. Despite our efforts, we still need to refine our hypothesis generation process to obtain real knowledge from a neuroepigenomic framework, to avoid the creation of more noise on this innovative point of view; this may help us to definitively unravel the molecular pathology of severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia.