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.

False data, positive results in neurobiology: moving beyond the epigenetics of blood and saliva samples in mental disorders

Many psychiatric diseases are influenced by a set of several genetic and environmental factors that genetics alone cannot explain. Specifically, in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder 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 its pathophysiological mechanisms. In this field, the presence of positive results could potentially uncover molecular mechanisms of deregulated gene expression in these complex disorders. In this commentary we have reviewed the positive data obtained over the last five years from the scientific literature published in PubMed and we have shown that these results are based on peripheral samples (blood, saliva and other fluids) that do not allow us to obtain reliable and/or valid results, under any circumstances. Finally, we highlight the need to employ human brain samples in the epigenetic study of mental disorders.

The vast complexity of the epigenetic landscape during neurodevelopment: an open frame to understanding brain function

Development is a well-defined stage-to-stage process that allows the coordination and maintenance of the structure and function of cells and their progenitors, in a complete organism embedded in an environment that, in turn, will shape cellular responses to external stimuli. Epigenetic mechanisms comprise a group of process that regulate genetic expression without changing the DNA sequence, and they contribute to the necessary plasticity of individuals to face a constantly changing medium. These mechanisms act in conjunction with genetic pools and their correct interactions will be crucial to zygote formation, embryo development, and brain tissue organization. In this work, we will summarize the main findings related to DNA methylation and histone modifications in embryonic stem cells and throughout early development phases. Furthermore, we will critically outline some key observations on how epigenetic mechanisms influence the rest of the developmental process and how long its footprint is extended from fecundation to adulthood.