A preliminary analysis of association between the down-regulation of microRNA-181b expression and symptomatology improvement in schizophrenia patients before and after antipsychotic treatment.
Despite the growing evidences on the relation of altered expression of miRNAs and schizophrenia, most schizophrenia subjects have an extensive antipsychotic treatment history and the pharmacological effects on miRNA expression are largely unknown. This study aimed to investigate the change of plasma microRNA-181b level and improvement of symptomatology before and after six-week antipsychotic treatment in schizophrenia patients, and explore their association. A total of 20 schizophrenia patients absent of antipsychotics and 20 age-and gender-matched normal controls were enrolled, and tested for 9 schizophrenia-associated microRNA (miR-30e, miR-34a, miR-181b, miR-195, miR-346, miR-432, miR-7, miR-132 and miR-212) expression levels in plasma using quantitative RT-PCR and for symptomatology improvement using Positive And Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) before and after treatment (olanzapine, quetiapine, ziprasidone and risperidone) for the patients only. Compared with the normal control group, the expression levels of miRNA-181b, miRNA-30e, miRNA-34a and miRNA-7 of the patients group were significantly higher (p < 0.05). Compared with those before treatment in the patient group, the symptomatology scores were significantly lower (p < 0.001), and the expression level of microRNA-181b was significantly down-regulated after treatment (p < 0.05). The change of miRNA-181b expression was positively correlated with the improvement of negative symptoms and lack of response symptoms (r = 0.502 and 0.557, P < 0.05, accounting for 20.2% and 26.4% respectively), and their therapeutic effects with OR being 11.283 and 5.119 respectively. We conclude that miRNA-181b, miRNA-30e, miRNA-34a and miRNA-7 are probably involved in pathogenesis of SZ, and the significant down-regulation of miRNA-181b expression predicts improvement of negative symptoms to treatment, and thus can serve as a potential plasmamolecular marker for antipsychotic responses.