Gene expression studies of bipolar disorder (BPD) have shown changes in transcriptome profiles in multiple brain regions. Here we summarize the most consistent findings in the scientific literature, and compare them to data from schizophrenia (SZ) and major depressive disorder (MDD). The transcriptome profiles of all three disorders overlap, making the existence of a BPD-specific profile unlikely. Three groups of functionally related genes are consistently expressed at altered levels in BPD, SZ and MDD. Genes involved in energy metabolism and mitochondrial function are downregulated, genes involved in immune response and inflammation are upregulated, and genes expressed in oligodendrocytes are downregulated. Experimental paradigms for multiple sclerosis demonstrate a tight link between energy metabolism, inflammation and demyelination. These studies also show variabilities in the extent of oligodendrocyte stress, which can vary from a downregulation of oligodendrocyte genes, such as observed in psychiatric disorders, to cell death and brain lesions seen in multiple sclerosis. We conclude that experimental models of multiple sclerosis could be of interest for the research of BPD, SZ and MDD.
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