Decreased expression of mineralocorticoid receptor mRNA and its splice variants in postmortem brain regions of patients with major depressive disorder.
- Clinical and Applied Virology
Appropriate signaling in the brain by the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) is critical in regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, emotional arousal and cognitive performance. To date, few data exist on MR (and GR) expression in the brain of patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD). With the help of quantitative PCR we assessed MR and GR mRNA expression, including the splice variants MRalpha and MRbeta, in tissue samples from the hippocampus, amygdala, inferior frontal gyrus, cingulate gyrus and nucleus accumbens. Expression levels were compared between tissue samples from six MDD patients and six non-depressed subjects. Relative to total GR, total MR mRNA expression was higher in hippocampus and lower in the amygdala, inferior frontal gyrus and nucleus accumbens. Both MRalpha and MRbeta could be detected in all brain regions that were analyzed, although MRbeta expression was low. Significantly lower expression levels (30-50%) were detected for MR or GR in hippocampal, inferior frontal gyrus and cingulate gyrus tissue from MDD patients (p < .05), while no differences were found in the amygdala or nucleus accumbens. The data show that both MRalpha and MRbeta mRNA are expressed throughout the human limbic brain with highest expressions in the hippocampus. A decreased expression of corticosteroid receptors in specific brain regions of MDD patients could underlie HPA hyperactivity, mood and cognitive disturbances often observed in patients suffering from stress-related psychopathologies.