Open Access Research

The effects of a DTNBP1 gene variant on attention networks: an fMRI study

Markus Thimm1*, Axel Krug2, Thilo Kellermann1, Valentin Markov1, Sören Krach34, Andreas Jansen3, Klaus Zerres5, Thomas Eggermann5, Tony Stöcker6, N Jon Shah6, Markus M Nöthen78, Marcella Rietschel9 and Tilo Kircher2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstr. 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

2 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-University Marburg, Rudolf-Bultmann-Str. 8, 35039 Marburg, Germany

3 Section of Brain Imaging, Philipps-University Marburg, Rudolf-Bultmann-Str. 8, 35039 Marburg, Germany

4 Department of Neurology, Philipps-University Marburg, Rudolf-Bultmann-Str. 8, 35039 Marburg, Germany

5 Institute of Human Genetics, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstr. 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

6 Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine - 4, Forschungszentrum Jülich, 52425 Jülich, Germany

7 Institute of Human Genetics, University of Bonn, Wilhelmstr. 31, 53111 Bonn, Germany

8 Department of Genomics, Life & Brain Center, University of Bonn, Sigmund-Freud-Strasse 25, 53127 Bonn, Germany

9 Department of Genetic Epidemiology in Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health, J 5, 68159 Mannheim, Germany

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Behavioral and Brain Functions 2010, 6:54  doi:10.1186/1744-9081-6-54

Published: 16 September 2010

Abstract

Background

Attention deficits belong to the main cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia and come along with altered neural activity in previously described cerebral networks. Given the high heritability of schizophrenia the question arises if impaired function of these networks is modulated by susceptibility genes and detectable in healthy risk allele carriers.

Methods

The present event-related fMRI study investigated the effect of the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1018381 of the DTNBP1 (dystrobrevin-binding protein 1) gene on brain activity in 80 subjects while performing the attention network test (ANT). In this reaction time task three domains of attention are probed simultaneously: alerting, orienting and executive control of attention.

Results

Risk allele carriers showed impaired performance in the executive control condition associated with reduced neural activity in the left superior frontal gyrus [Brodmann area (BA) 9]. Risk allele carriers did not show alterations in the alerting and orienting networks.

Conclusions

BA 9 is a key region of schizophrenia pathology and belongs to a network that has been shown previously to be involved in impaired executive control mechanisms in schizophrenia. Our results identified the impact of DTNBP1 on the development of a specific attention deficit via modulation of a left prefrontal network.