University of Illinois at Chicago
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Altered Wnt signalling in the teenage suicide brain: focus on glycogen synthase kinase-3b and b-catenin

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journal contribution
posted on 2013-12-03, 00:00 authored by Xinguo Ren, Hooriyah S. Rizavi, Mansoor A. Khan, Yogesh Dwivedi, Ghanshyam N. Pandey
Glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3β and β-catenin are important components of the Wnt signalling pathway, which is involved in numerous physiological functions such as cognition, brain development and cell survival. Their abnormalities have been implicated in mood disorders and schizophrenia. Teenage suicide is a major public health concern; however, very little is known about its neurobiology. In order to examine if abnormalities of GSK-3β and β-catenin are associated with teenage suicide, we determined the gene and protein expression of GSK-3β and β-catenin in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and hippocampus obtained from 24 teenage suicide victims and 24 normal control subjects. Protein expression was determined using Western blot with specific antibodies and gene expression (mRNA levels) was determined using the real-time polymerase chain reaction method. No significant change was observed in the GSK-3β protein levels either in the PFC or hippocampus of suicide victims compared to controls. However, protein levels of pGSK-3β-ser9 were significantly decreased in the PFC and hippocampus of suicide victims compared to normal controls. We also found that GSK-3β mRNA levels were significantly decreased in the PFC but not in the hippocampus of teenage suicide victims compared to controls. Mean protein and mRNA levels of β-catenin were significantly decreased in both the PFC and hippocampus of teenage suicide group compared to controls. The observation that there is a decrease in β-catenin and pGSK-3β-ser9 in the PFC and hippocampus of teenage suicide victims does indicate a disturbance in the Wnt signalling pathway in teenage suicide.


This study was supported by a grant (RO1 MH 48153 to Dr Pandey) from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Rockville, MD.


Publisher Statement

This is a copy of an article published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology © 2012 Cambridge University Press. The final publication is available at


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