The application of proteomics to the human alcoholic brain
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Alcoholism results in changes in the human brain that reinforce the cycle of craving and dependency, and these changes are manifest in the pattern of expression of proteins in key cells and brain areas. Described here is a proteomics-based approach aimed at determining the identity of proteins in the superior frontal cortex (SFC) of the human brain that show different levels of expression in autopsy samples taken from healthy and long-term alcohol abuse subjects. Soluble protein fractions constituting pooled samples combined from SFC biopsies of four well-characterized chronic alcoholics (mean consumption > 80 g ethanol/day throughout adulthood) and four matched controls (<20 g/day) were generated. Two-dimensional electrophoresis was performed in triplicate on alcoholic and control samples and the resultant protein profiles analyzed for differential expression. Overall, 182 proteins differed by the criterion of twofold or more between case and control samples. Of these, 139 showed significantly lower expression in alcoholics, 35 showed significantly higher expression, and 8 were new or had disappeared. To date, 63 proteins have been identified using MALDI-MS and MS-MS. The finding that the expression level of differentially expressed proteins is preponderantly lower in the alcoholic brain is supported by recent results from parallel studies using microarray mRNA transcript.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences