Molecular signature of extracellular matrix pathology in schizophrenia

Harry Pantazopoulos, Pavel Katsel, Vahram Haroutunian, Gabriele Chelini, Torsten Klengel, Sabina Berretta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Growing evidence points to a critical involvement of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia (SZ). Decreases of perineuronal nets (PNNs) and altered expression of chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPGs) in glial cells have been identified in several brain regions. GWAS data have identified several SZ vulnerability variants of genes encoding for ECM molecules. Given the potential relevance of ECM functions to the pathophysiology of this disorder, it is necessary to understand the extent of ECM changes across brain regions, their region- and sex-specificity and which ECM components contribute to these changes. We tested the hypothesis that the expression of genes encoding for ECM molecules may be broadly disrupted in SZ across several cortical and subcortical brain regions and include key ECM components as well as factors such as ECM posttranslational modifications and regulator factors. Gene expression profiling of 14 neocortical brain regions, caudate, putamen and hippocampus from control subjects (n = 14/region) and subjects with SZ (n = 16/region) was conducted using Affymetrix microarray analysis. Analysis across brain regions revealed widespread dysregulation of ECM gene expression in cortical and subcortical brain regions in SZ, impacting several ECM functional key components. SRGN, CD44, ADAMTS1, ADAM10, BCAN, NCAN and SEMA4G showed some of the most robust changes. Region-, sex- and age-specific gene expression patterns and correlation with cognitive scores were also detected. Taken together, these findings contribute to emerging evidence for large-scale ECM dysregulation in SZ and point to molecular pathways involved in PNN decreases, glial cell dysfunction and cognitive impairment in SZ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3960-3987
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • extracellular matrix
  • glial cells
  • interneurons
  • microarray
  • neurodevelopment
  • perineuronal nets
  • schizophrenia
  • synaptic plasticity


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