Validation of endogenous controls for quantitative gene expression analysis: Application on brain cortices of human chronic alcoholics

Sofia Johansson, Andrea Fuchs, Anna Ökvist, Mohsen Karimi, Clive Harper, Therese Garrick, Donna Sheedy, Yasmin Hurd, Georgy Bakalkin, Tomas J. Ekström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Real-time PCR is frequently used for gene expression quantification due to its methodological sensitivity and reproducibility. The gene expression is quantified by normalization to one or more reference genes, usually beta-actin (ACTB), glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPD) or to ribosomal RNA (18S). However, different environmental or pathological conditions might also influence the expression of normalizing genes, which could severely skew the interpretation of quantitative results. This study evaluates whether 16 genes frequently used as endogenous controls in expression studies, can serve as such for comparison of human brain tissues of chronic alcoholics and control subjects. The prefrontal and motor cortices that are affected differently by chronic alcohol consumption were analyzed. The reference genes that have no or small differences in expression in alcoholics and control subjects, were found to be specific for each region: beta-actin (ACTB) and ribosomal large P0 (RPLP0) for the prefrontal cortex while importin 8 (IPO8) and RNA polymerase II (POLR2A) for the motor cortex. Four out of sixteen analyzed genes demonstrated significant differences in expression between alcoholics and controls: phosphoglycerate kinase (PGK1), hypoxanthine phosphoribosyl transferase (HPRT1) and peptidylprolyl isomerase A (PPIA) in the motor cortex and beta-2-microglobulin (B2M) in the prefrontal cortex. Our study demonstrates the importance of validation of endogenous control genes prior to real-time PCR analysis of human brain tissues. Prescribed and non-prescribed drugs, pathological or environmental conditions along with alcohol abuse may differentially influence expression of reference genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 9 Feb 2007


  • Frontal
  • LDA
  • Motor
  • Real-time PCR
  • Reference gene
  • geNORM


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