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Microarray RNA Expression Analysis of Cerebral White Matter Lesions Reveals Changes in Multiple Functional Pathways

Lookup NU author(s): Professor John O'Brien, Dr Robert Barber, Professor Raj KalariaORCiD, Professor Carol Brayne, Professor Pamela Shaw


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Background and Purpose-White matter lesions (WML) in brain aging are linked to dementia and depression. Ischemia contributes to their pathogenesis but other mechanisms may contribute. We used RNA microarray analysis with functional pathway grouping as an unbiased approach to investigate evidence for additional pathogenetic mechanisms. Methods-WML were identified by MRI and pathology in brains donated to the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study Cognitive Function and Aging Study. RNA was extracted to compare WML with nonlesional white matter samples from cases with lesions (WM[L]), and from cases with no lesions (WM[C]) using RNA microarray and pathway analysis. Functional pathways were validated for selected genes by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and immunocytochemistry. Results-We identified 8 major pathways in which multiple genes showed altered RNA transcription (immune regulation, cell cycle, apoptosis, proteolysis, ion transport, cell structure, electron transport, metabolism) among 502 genes that were differentially expressed in WML compared to WM[C]. In WM[L], 409 genes were altered involving the same pathways. Genes selected to validate this microarray data all showed the expected changes in RNA levels and immunohistochemical expression of protein. Conclusion-WML represent areas with a complex molecular phenotype. From this and previous evidence, WML may arise through tissue ischemia but may also reflect the contribution of additional factors like blood-brain barrier dysfunction. Differential expression of genes in WM[L] compared to WM[C] indicate a "field effect" in the seemingly normal surrounding white matter. (Stroke. 2009; 40: 369-375.)

Publication metadata

Author(s): Simpson JE, Hosny O, Wharton SB, Heath PR, Holden H, Fernando MS, Matthews F, Forster G, O'Brien JT, Barber R, Kalaria RN, Brayne C, Shaw PJ, Lewis CE, Ince PG, Med Res Council Cognitive Function

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Stroke

Year: 2009

Volume: 40

Issue: 2

Pages: 369-375

ISSN (print): 0039-2499

ISSN (electronic): 1524-4628

Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins


DOI: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.529214


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Funder referenceFunder name
G0300126Medical Research Council
G0500247Medical Research Council
G0400074Medical Research Council
G0502157Medical Research Council
G9901400Medical Research Council
MC_U105292687Medical Research Council