While the pathophysiology of schizophrenia has been extensively investigated using homogenized postmortem brain samples, few studies have examined changes in brain samples with techniques that may attribute perturbations to specific cell types. To fill this gap, we performed microarray assays on mRNA isolated from anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) superficial and deep pyramidal neurons from 12 schizophrenia and 12 control subjects using laser-capture microdissection. Among all the annotated genes, we identified 134 significantly increased and 130 decreased genes in superficial pyramidal neurons, while 93 significantly increased and 101 decreased genes were found in deep pyramidal neurons, in schizophrenia compared to control subjects. In these differentially expressed genes, we detected lamina-specific changes of 55 and 31 genes in superficial and deep neurons in schizophrenia, respectively. Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) was applied to the entire pre-ranked differential expression gene lists to gain a complete pathway analysis throughout all annotated genes. Our analysis revealed overrepresented groups of gene sets in schizophrenia, particularly in immunity and synapse-related pathways, suggesting the disruption of these pathways plays an important role in schizophrenia. We also detected other pathways previously demonstrated in schizophrenia pathophysiology, including cytokine and chemotaxis, postsynaptic signaling, and glutamatergic synapses. In addition, we observed several novel pathways, including ubiquitin-independent protein catabolic process. Considering the effects of antipsychotic treatment on gene expression, we applied a novel bioinformatics approach to compare our differential expression gene profiles with 51 antipsychotic treatment datasets, demonstrating that our results were not influenced by antipsychotic treatment. Taken together, we found pyramidal neuron-specific changes in neuronal immunity, synaptic dysfunction, and olfactory dysregulation in schizophrenia, providing new insights for the cell-subtype specific pathophysiology of chronic schizophrenia.
© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.