The Leukocytes Expressing DARPP-32 are Reduced in Patients with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder


Torres, K. C. L., Souza, B. R., Miranda, D. M., Nicolato, R., Neves, F. S., Barros, A. G. A., … & Romano-Silva, M. A. (2009). The leukocytes expressing DARPP-32 are reduced in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 33(2), 214-219.


Bipolar disorder (BPD) and schizophrenia (SCZ) are severe disorders representing an enormous social, familiar and individual burden, being SCZ the most disabling psychiatric disorder characterized by psychosis and cognitive impairment. It is well known that SCZ and BPD are associated with abnormalities in dopamine signaling pathway. Recent data in the literature have demonstrated altered expression levels of some proteins involved in the modulation of this pathway in both brain and peripheral tissues. It was shown that protein and mRNA levels of dopamine and cAMP regulated phosphoprotein (DARPP-32) were downregulated in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) of patients with SCZ or BPD when compared to controls. Due to the difficulty to access brain tissue and the absence of objective laboratory tests for bio-markers, we measured DARPP-32 expression in blood cell sub-populations (CD4+ T lymphocytes, CD56+ NK cells, CD19+ B lymphocytes and CD14+ monocytes) taking advantage of the close relation of nervous and immune systems. Using flow cytometry as the analytical method, our results have shown that the DARPP-32 expression was diminished in CD4+ T lymphocytes, CD19+ B lymphocytes and CD14+ monocytes of BPD patients and was also decreased in CD4+ T lymphocytes and CD56+ NK cells of SCZ patients. These results showed that DARPP-32 expression in immune cells agrees with reports of reduced DARPP-32 protein in the DLPFC of BPD or SCZ patients. Our data suggest that DARPP-32 expression in PBMC could be used as a source of bio-markers to help in the treatment response of neuropsychiatry disorders as a window to the changes in the brain of those patients.

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