Transitions in the transcriptome of the serotonergic and dopaminergic systems in the human brain during adolescence

Gal Shoval, Ossnat Bar-Shira, Gil Zalsman, J. John Mann, Gal Chechik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Adolescence is a period of profound neurophysiological, behavioral, cognitive and psychological changes, but not much is known about the underlying molecular neural mechanisms. The aim of this study was to systematically analyze expression levels of the genes forming serotonergic and dopaminergic synapses during adolescence. We analyzed the mRNA expression profiles of genes that code for all components of serotonergic and dopaminergic synapses, in 16 brain areas from human and non-human primates from public domain databases, to detect genes whose expression changes during adolescence. Two serotonin receptors, HTR1E and HTR1B had expression levels that exhibit a sharp transition in the prefrontal cortex in adolescence, but we found no similar transition in the dopaminergic system. A similar but smoother rise in expression levels is observed in HTR4 and HTR5A, and in HTR1E and HTR1B in three other expression datasets published. An earlier rise is observed in HTR1A, and a smooth and significant rise with age is observed in the expression of HTR1E in microarray measurements in macaque monkeys. The expression of HTR1E and HTR1B is correlated across subjects within each age group, suggesting that they are controlled by common mechanisms. These results point to HTR1E and HTR1B as major candidate genes involved in adolescence maturation processes, and to their operation through common control mechanisms. The maturation profiles may also involve several other 5-HT receptors, including the genes HTR5A, HTR4 and HTR1A.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-1132
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from the Israeli Science Foundation 1090/12 and by a Marie Curie reintegration grant PIRG06-2009–256566. The sponsors had no further role in the study design; collection; analysis and interpretation of the data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.


  • Adolescence
  • Dopamine
  • Serotonin


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