Molecular characterization of the stress network in individuals at risk for schizophrenia

Mandy Meijer, Arlin Keo, Judith M. C. van Leeuwen, Oleh Dzyubachyk, Onno C. Meijer, Christiaan H. Vinkers, Ahmed Mahfouz

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The biological mechanisms underlying inter-individual differences in human stress reactivity remain poorly understood. We aimed to identify the molecular underpinning of aberrant neural stress sensitivity in individuals at risk for schizophrenia. Linking mRNA expression data from the Allen Human Brain Atlas to task-based fMRI revealed 201 differentially expressed genes in cortex-specific brain regions differentially activated by stress in individuals with low (healthy siblings of schizophrenia patients) or high (healthy controls) stress sensitivity. These genes are associated with stress-related psychiatric disorders (e.g. schizophrenia and anxiety) and include markers for specific neuronal populations (e.g. ADCYAP1, GABRB1, SSTR1, and TNFRSF12A), neurotransmitter receptors (e.g. GRIN3A, SSTR1, GABRB1, and HTR1E), and signaling factors that interact with the corticosteroid receptor and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (e.g. ADCYAP1, IGSF11, and PKIA). Overall, the identified genes potentially underlie altered stress reactivity in individuals at risk for schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders and play a role in mounting an adaptive stress response in at-risk individuals, making them potentially druggable targets for stress-related diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100307
JournalNeurobiology of Stress
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • Molecular correlates
  • Stress network
  • Stress reactivity
  • Stress sensitivity
  • Stress-related diseases

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