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NBB-Psy, the Netherlands Brain Bank for Psychiatry

NBB-Psy is a program of the Netherlands Brain Bank. Its aim is to establish a resource of brain tissue of 7 major psychiatric disorders:

  • Major depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

As the personal, social and economic burden of psychiatric disorders is high, there is an urgent need for better treatment strategies, which requires the understanding of underlying etiology and pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders. The use of human brain tissue provides the most direct strategy to develop and test hypotheses about the molecular and cellular basis of psychiatric disorders. The current availability of human brain tissue from patients with psychiatric disorders is by far not sufficient. Therefore, it is our mission to develop a qualitatively unique tissue program to increase the number of post-mortem brains of well-characterized psychiatric and control donors: NBB-Psy (NHB-Psy in Dutch). This resource is now available to the national and international research community via the application procedures of the NBB.

To make NBB-Psy possible, in 2012, the NBB received a grant of 3.45 million Euros from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), in collaboration with five Dutch university medical centers (UMC Utrecht, VUmc & AMC Amsterdam, Radboudumc Nijmegen en Erasmus MC Rotterdam). With this grant the NBB and the five university medical centers have started working on a national infrastructure with the goal of collecting brain tissue for research purposes, from well-diagnosed persons with psychiatric diagnoses. Direct access to brain tissue can facilitate breakthroughs in researching the origins of psychiatric diseases. This is important, because psychiatric diseases elicit many questions that cannot be sufficiently answered at this time.

Video NBB-Psy

Video NBB-Psy








Additional data and samples for NBB-Psy cases

Apart from the standard information that is provided together with the samples (extensive summary of medical records and neuropathological report), for NBB-Psy additional information and material will be available:

  • Antemortem data within NBB-Psy
    All potential donors have to fill in a medical questionnaire when they register. In addition, we will use web-based questionnaires to generate five-yearly updates on relevant clinical parameters.
  • Postmortem enrichments within NBB-Psy
    We will use novel methods to enrich the brain material by:
    • Isolation of primary microglia and astrocytes
      Pure microglia and astrocytes will be isolated from white matter and occipital cortex. Glial cells will be phenotyped using flow cytometric analysis and stored as lysates or cryogenically frozen. For microglia isolations, both are currently available to researchers. The protocol for the isolation of pure astrocytes is under development.
    • Generation of glial cell lines (microglia and astrocytes) from pure glial cells for high throughput cell biological analyses.
    • Biobank for molecular analyses of the diverse disorders
      Due to the increased demand for tissue in molecular analyes (RNA, DNA, protein), and the scarcity of certain brain regions, NBB-Psy has reserved certain frozen tissue blocks specifically for these research projects. Upon request, NBB-Psy will provide researchers with a specific amount of tissue suitable to the project. This ensures that multiple research projects can include the same donors and brain regions, and ensures the continued availability of these regions for future studies.
    • Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC’s)
      Fibroblasts will be isolated (from skin) of major depression (n=10), schizophrenia (n=10), bipolar disorder (n=10), autism spectrum disorder (n=10), and control donors (n=10). These fibroblast cultures are reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cell lines and made available to researchers as cryogenically frozen samples. Through published protocols, researchers can obtain neural stem cells, and subsequently acquire donor-specific glial cells and neurons.