Human molecular genetics

Neuropeptide precursor VGF is genetically associated with social anhedonia and underrepresented in the brain of major mental illness: its downregulation by DISC1.

PMID 24934694


In a large Scottish pedigree, disruption of the gene coding for DISC1 clearly segregates with major depression, schizophrenia and related mental conditions. Thus, study of DISC1 may provide a clue to understand the biology of major mental illness. A neuropeptide precursor VGF has potent antidepressant effects and has been reportedly associated with bipolar disorder. Here we show that DISC1 knockdown leads to a reduction of VGF, in neurons. VGF is also downregulated in the cortices from sporadic cases with major mental disease. A positive correlation of VGF single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with social anhedonia was also observed. We now propose that VGF participates in a common pathophysiology of major mental disease.