Brain Gene Expression Profiling of Individuals With Dual Diagnosis Who Died by Suicide

Brenda Cabrera-Mendoza, Cristóbal Fresno, Nancy Monroy-Jaramillo, Gabriel Rodrigo Fries, Consuelo Walss-Bass, David C. Glahn, Patricia Ostrosky-Wegman, Alma Delia Genis-Mendoza, José Jaime Martínez-Magaña, Ana Luisa Romero-Pimentel, Carlos Enrique Díaz-Otañez, Fernando García-Dolores, Eli Elier González-Sáenz, Roberto Cuauhtemoc Mendoza-Morales, Gonzalo Flores, Rubén Vázquez-Roque, Humberto Nicolini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Dual diagnosis (DD) is the co-occurrence of at least one substance use disorder and one or more mental disorders in a given individual. Despite this comorbidity being highly prevalent and associated with adverse clinical outcomes, its neurobiology remains unclear. Furthermore, patients with DD are at higher risk for suicidal behavior in comparison with single disorder patients. Our objective was to evaluate brain gene expression patterns in individuals with DD who died by suicide. Methods: We compared the gene expression profile in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of suicides with DD (n = 10) to the transcriptome of suicides with substance use disorder alone (n = 10), suicides with mood disorders (MD) alone (n = 13), and suicides without mental comorbidities (n = 5). Gene expression profiles were assessed by microarrays. In addition, we performed a brain cell type enrichment to evaluate whether the gene expression profiles could reflect differences in cell type compositions among the groups. Results: When comparing the transcriptome of suicides with DD to suicides with substance use disorder alone and suicides with MD alone, we identified 255 and 172 differentially expressed genes (DEG), respectively. The overlap of DEG between both comparisons (112 genes) highlighted the presence of common disrupted pathways in substance use disorder and MD. When comparing suicides with DD to suicides without mental comorbidities, we identified 330 DEG, mainly enriched in neurogenesis. Cell type enrichment indicated higher levels of glial markers in suicides with DD compared to the other groups. Conclusions: Suicides with DD exhibited a gene expression profile distinct from that of suicides with a single disorder, being substance use disorder or MD, and suicides without mental disorders. Our results suggest alteration in the expression of genes involved in glial specific markers, glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission in suicides with DD compared to suicides with a single disorder and suicides without mental comorbidities. Alterations in the expression of synaptic genes at different levels were found in substance use disorder and MD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-190
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Dual Diagnosis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020


  • Transcriptome
  • co-occurring disorders
  • comorbidity
  • dual diagnosis
  • substance use disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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