Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New And Unexpected Mechanism Identified How The Brain Responds To Stress

Date:
March 4, 2009
Source:
University of Calgary
Summary:
Using a rat model, scientists have discovered that neurons in the hypothalamus, the brain's command center for stress responses, interpret "off" chemical signals as "on" chemical signals when stress is perceived.

Jaideep Bains, PhD, in his lab at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Calgary

Chronic stress takes a physical and emotional toll on our bodies and scientists are working on piecing together a medical puzzle to understand how we respond to stress at the cellular level in the brain. Being able to quickly and successfully respond to stress is essential for survival.

Using a rat model, Jaideep Bains, PhD, a University of Calgary scientist and his team of researchers at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute have discovered that neurons in the hypothalamus, the brain’s command centre for stress responses, interpret ‘off’ chemical signals as ‘on’ chemical signals when stress is perceived. “It’s as if the brakes in your car are now acting to speed up the vehicle, rather than slow it down.” says Bains.

This unexpected finding is being published in the March 1st online edition of Nature Neuroscience.

Normally, neurons receive different chemical signals that tell them to either switch on or switch off. The off signal or brake only works if the levels of chloride ion in the cells are maintained at a low level.

This is accomplished by a protein, known as KCC2. What Bains and colleagues have shown is that stress turns down the activity of KCC2, thus removing the ability of the brake, a chemical known as GABA, to work properly. A loss of the brain’s ability to slow down may explain some of the harmful, emotional consequences of stress.

While the findings provide a new mechanistic explanation of how the brain interprets stress signals, "there is still much work needed in the basic science of this phenomenon before there are any new advances in the medical treatment of stress," says Bains.

“This opens entirely new and quite unexpected avenues for controlling stress responses” says Yves De Koninck, PhD, president-elect of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience and professor of Psychiatry at Laval University.

“I was fascinated when I learned of this work. It has not been clear till now how the neuroendocrine stress response was activated by external stressors. Bains’ work shows a complex, yet elegant solution, involving a switch from inhibition to excitation.” says Jane Stewart, PhD a behavioural neuroscientist from Concordia University, “these findings may lead to a better understanding of the changes in sensitivity to stress that result from chronic exposure.”

The research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Bains is an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research scholar, an associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics and a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Calgary. "New And Unexpected Mechanism Identified How The Brain Responds To Stress." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302133226.htm>.
University of Calgary. (2009, March 4). New And Unexpected Mechanism Identified How The Brain Responds To Stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302133226.htm
University of Calgary. "New And Unexpected Mechanism Identified How The Brain Responds To Stress." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302133226.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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