Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A Brain Chemical That Battles Despair

Date:
July 20, 2007
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Researchers have identified a gene-regulating protein in the brains of mice that triggers the animals' ability to cope with the "behavioral despair" caused by inescapable stress.

Researchers have identified a gene-regulating protein in the brains of mice that triggers the animals' ability to cope with the "behavioral despair" caused by inescapable stress. They said their studies have yielded an animal model of resilience that they will use to explore how antidepressants work on the brain circuitry involved in such stress response.

Related Articles


Led by Eric Nestler, the researchers published their findings in the July 19, 2007, issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press.

In earlier studies, Nestler and his colleagues showed that exposure to repeated stress caused an increase in a protein called ∆FosB in the brain. This protein is a "transcription factor," a regulatory protein that controls the activity of multiple target genes.

In the new experiments, they sought to explore the role of ∆FosB in regulating adaptation to stress. Their approach involved first exposing mice to random shocks from which the animals could not escape. Such repeated exposure to inescapable stress tends to increase the lag time for mice to escape subsequent shocks, when they are given the chance to escape. Measuring this lag time, or the complete failure to escape, gave the researchers a measure of "behavioral despair." This experimental approach has long been used as an animal model of human "affective disorders" such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder. As in humans with such disorders, this behavioral despair in mice responds to antidepressants.

Nestler and colleagues discovered that the mice that showed the smallest lag in escape times also had higher levels of ∆FosB in a brain region involved in processing of pain signals and defensive responses. In contrast, animals with either longer escape lag times or failure to escape showed lower ∆FosB levels.

What's more, when the researchers introduced higher levels of the gene for ∆FosB into mice, they found it reduced the level of behavioral despair as reflected in their readiness to escape shocks.

The researchers also established that increased ∆FosB levels in the mice decreased the activity of the gene for a protein called "substance P‘" known to regulate processes such as mood, pain sensitivity, anxiety, and stress

"Our present results provide a fundamentally novel and testable model for the mechanisms of resilience," concluded the researchers. "Our future studies will test the hypothesis that antidepressant treatments may enhance resilience by stimulating these same adaptive processes which occur spontaneously in some, but not all, of the individuals in a population exposed to chronic stress," they wrote.

The researchers include Olivier Berton, Herbert E. Covington 3rd, Nadia M. Tsankova, Tiffany L. Carle, Paula Ulery, Akshay Bhonsle, Vaishnav Krishnan, Shari Birnbaum, and Eric J. Nestler of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; Michel Barrot of European Neuroscience Institute of Strasbourg and Unit Mixte de Recherche 7519, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Universit Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg; Karl Ebner, Georg M. Singewald, and Nicolas Singewald of University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck; Rachael L. Neve of Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital, Belmont.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, and la Fondation pour la Recherche Medicale.

Berton et al.: "Induction of ¦ΔFosB in the Periaqueductal Gray by Stress Promotes Active Coping Responses." Publishing in Neuron 55, 289¨C300, July 19, 2007. DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2007.06.033. http://www.neuron.org.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "A Brain Chemical That Battles Despair." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070718140758.htm>.
Cell Press. (2007, July 20). A Brain Chemical That Battles Despair. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070718140758.htm
Cell Press. "A Brain Chemical That Battles Despair." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070718140758.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins