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Background: Pathology of white matter in brains of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) is well-documented, but the cellular and molecular basis of this pathology are poorly understood.

Methods:Levels of DNA oxidation and gene expression of DNA damage repair enzymes were measured in Brodmann area 10 (BA10) and/or amygdala (uncinate fasciculus) white matter tissue from brains of MDD (n=10) and psychiatrically normal control donors (n=13). DNA oxidation was also measured in BA10 white matter of schizophrenia donors (n=10) and in prefrontal cortical white matter from control rats (n=8) and rats with repeated stress-induced anhedonia (n=8).

Results:DNA oxidation in BA10 white matter was robustly elevated in MDD as compared to control donors, with a smaller elevation occurring in schizophrenia donors. DNA oxidation levels in psychiatrically affected donors that died by suicide did not significantly differ from DNA oxidation levels in psychiatrically affected donors dying by other causes (non-suicide). Gene expression levels of two base excision repair enzymes, PARP1 and OGG1, were robustly elevated in oligodendrocytes laser captured from BA10 and amygdala white matter of MDD donors, with smaller but significant elevations of these gene expressions in astrocytes. In rats, repeated stress-induced anhedonia, as measured by a reduction in sucrose preference, was associated with increased DNA oxidation in white, but not gray, matter.

Conclusions:Cellular residents of brain white matter demonstrate markers of oxidative damage in MDD. Medications that interfere with oxidative damage or pathways activated by oxidative damage have potential to improve treatment for MDD.

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© The Author 2016. This document was originally published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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