Postmortem Cortical Transcriptomics of Lewy Body Dementia Reveal Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Lack of Neuroinflammation

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OBJECTIVE: Prevalence of Lewy body dementias (LBD) is second only to Alzheimer's disease (AD) among people with neurodegenerative dementia. LBD cause earlier mortality, more intense neuropsychiatric symptoms, more caregivers' burden, and higher costs than AD. The molecular mechanisms underlying LBD are largely unknown. As advancing molecular level mechanistic understanding is essential for identifying reliable peripheral biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets for LBD, the authors aimed to identify differentially expressed genes (DEG), and dysfunctional molecular networks in postmortem LBD brains.

METHODS: The authors investigated the transcriptomics of postmortem anterior cingulate and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices of people with pathology-verified LBD using next-generation RNA-sequencing. The authors verified the identified DEG using high-throughput quantitative polymerase chain reactions. Functional implications of identified DEG and the consequent metabolic reprogramming were evaluated by Ingenuity pathway analyses, genome-scale metabolic modeling, reporter metabolite analyses, and in silico gene silencing.

RESULTS: The authors identified and verified 12 novel DEGs (MPO, SELE, CTSG, ALPI, ABCA13, GALNT6, SST, RBM3, CSF3, SLC4A1, OXTR, and RAB44) in LBD brains with genome-wide statistical significance. The authors documented statistically significant down-regulation of several cytokine genes. Identified dysfunctional molecular networks highlighted the contributions of mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and immunosenescence toward neurodegeneration in LBD.

CONCLUSION: Our findings support that chronic microglial activation and neuroinflammation, well-documented in AD, are notably absent in LBD. The lack of neuroinflammation in LBD brains was corroborated by statistically significant down-regulation of several inflammatory markers. Identified DEGs, especially down-regulated inflammatory markers, may aid distinguishing LBD from AD, and their biomarker potential warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-86
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number1
Early online date24 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Lewy body dementia
  • Parkinson disease
  • high-throughput RNA sequencing
  • mitochondria
  • systems biology


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