MORC1 methylation and BDI are associated with microstructural features of the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex

Annakarina Mundorf*, Judith Schmitz, Karola Hünten, Christoph Fraenz, Caroline Schlüter, Erhan Genç, Sebastian Ocklenburg, Nadja Freund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Alterations in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (PFC) have frequently been reported in depressed patients. These parameters might prove to be a consistent finding in depression. In addition, peripheral DNA methylation of the MORC1 gene promoter showed stable associations with depression across independent samples. However, the question arises whether MORC1, supposedly acting as transcription factor, might also be involved in neurobiological alterations accompanying depression. This study further analyses the role of MORC1 in depression by investigating a potential correlation between peripheral MORC1 DNA methylation and neuronal structural properties previously associated with depression in humans.

METHODS: Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was assessed in 52 healthy participants. DNA was extracted from buccal cells and MORC1 methylation correlated with micro- and macrostructural properties derived from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging (NODDI) in the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC).

RESULTS: MORC1 methylation was associated with volume reduction and neurite orientation dispersion and density markers in the hippocampus and mPFC. BDI was positively associated with neurite orientation dispersion and density markers in the hippocampus.

LIMITATIONS: The study was conducted in a small sample of healthy participants with subclinical depressive symptoms. Peripheral tissue was analyzed.

CONCLUSION: We found significant negative associations between peripheral MORC1 methylation and macro- and microstructural markers in the hippocampus and mPFC. Thus, MORC1 might be involved in neurobiological properties. Studies investigating neuronal methylation patterns of MORC1 are needed to support this hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-97
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume282
Early online date21 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • DNA Methylation/genetics
  • Hippocampus/diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Mouth Mucosa
  • Nuclear Proteins/genetics
  • Prefrontal Cortex/diagnostic imaging
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales

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