A co-expression network analysis reveals lncRNA abnormalities in peripheral blood in early-onset schizophrenia

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Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are emerging as important regulators of gene expression and disease processes especially in neuropsychiatric disorders. To explore the potential regulatory roles of lncRNAs in schizophrenia, we performed an integrated co-expression network analysis on lncRNA and mRNA microarray profiles generated from the peripheral blood samples in 19 drug-naïve first-episode early-onset schizophrenia (EOS) patients and 18 demographically matched typically developing controls (TDCs). Using weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA), we showed that the lncRNAs were organized into co-expressed modules, and two lncRNA modules were associated with EOS. The mRNA networks were constructed and three disease-associated modules were identified. Gene Ontology (GO) analysis indicated that the mRNAs were highly enriched for mitochondrion and related biological processes. Moreover, our results revealed a significant correlation between lncRNAs and mRNAs using the canonical correlation analysis (CCA). Our results suggest that the convergent lncRNA alteration may be involved in the etiologies of EOS, and mitochondrial dysfunction participates in the pathological process of the disease. Our findings may shed light on the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and facilitate future diagnosis and therapeutic strategies.

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