Altered Organization of GABA(A) Receptor mRNA Expression in the Depressed Suicide Brain

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


Inter-relationships ordinarily exist between mRNA expression of GABAA subunits in the frontopolar cortex (FPC) of individuals that had died suddenly from causes other than suicide. However, these correlations were largely absent in persons that had died by suicide. In the present investigation, these findings were extended by examining GABAA receptor expression patterns (of controls and depressed individuals that died by suicide) in the orbital frontal cortex (OFC), hippocampus, amygdala. locus coeruleus (LC) and paraventricular nucleus (PVN), all of which have been implicated in either depression, anxiety or stress responsivity. Using QPCR analysis, we found that in controls the inter-relations between GABAA subunits varied across brain regions, being high in the hippocampus and amygdala, intermediate in the LC, and low in the OFC and PVN. The GABAA subunit inter-relations were markedly different in persons that died by suicide, being reduced in hippocampus and amygdala, stable in the LC, but more coordinated in the OFC and to some extent in the PVN. It seems that altered brain region-specific inhibitory signaling, stemming from altered GABAA subunit coordination, are associated with depression/suicide. Although, it is unknown whether GABAA subunit re-organization was specifically tied to depression, suicide, or the accompanying distress, these data show that the coordinated expression of this transcriptome does vary depending on brain region and is plastic.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience