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Keywords:

  • Interleukin-1;
  • schizophrenia;
  • dorsolateral prefrontal cortex;
  • hypofrontality;
  • PET

Abstract

Hypoactivity of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) during cognitive tasks is among the most consistent findings in schizophrenia. The biological factors contributing to this hypofrontality are only partially known. Previous reports have shown the influence of genes mapped to IL-1 cluster (i) in the risk to develop schizophrenia and (ii) on brain morphological abnormalities in these patients. Moreover, Interleukin-1β (IL-1β), encoded by IL-1B gene (IL-1 cluster, chromosome 2q13) has a key role in dopaminergic differentiation and dendrite growth in developing cortical neurons. The authors explored the role of a genetic functional polymorphism at IL-1B gene in relation to DLPFC activity. DLPFC (left and right) metabolic activity was measured in a sample of 19 DSM-IV diagnosed schizophrenic patients of Spanish origin using a procedure based on MRI/PET image fusion. During PET studies, subjects performed a contingent Continuous Performance Test aiming to activate DLPFC. Functional promoter polymorphism −511 C/T (rs16944) of IL-1B gene was genotyped in these patients. Those patients who were allele 2 (−511 T) carriers showed a lower metabolic activity in the left DLPFC with respect to patients homozygous for allele 1 (−511 C) (U = 16, z = −2.32, P = 0.02). Our results suggest that hypofrontality reported in some schizophrenic patients might be explained, at least in part, by this functional polymorphism at IL-1B gene. Genetic variants with influence on brain functionality may account for the neurocognitive heterogeneity observed in schizophrenic patients. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.