Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mice and humans with same anxiety-related gene abnormality behave similarly

Date:
January 19, 2010
Source:
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Summary:
Studying animals in behavioral experiments has been a cornerstone of psychological research, but whether the observations are relevant for human behavior has been unclear. Researchers have now identified an alteration to the DNA of a gene that imparts similar anxiety-related behavior in both humans and mice, demonstrating that laboratory animals can be accurately used to study these human behaviors.

Laboratory mouse.
Credit: iStockphoto

Studying animals in behavioral experiments has been a cornerstone of psychological research, but whether the observations are relevant for human behavior has been unclear. Weill Cornell Medical College researchers have identified an alteration to the DNA of a gene that imparts similar anxiety-related behavior in both humans and mice, demonstrating that laboratory animals can be accurately used to study these human behaviors.

Related Articles


The findings may help researchers develop new clinical strategies to treat humans with anxiety disorders, such as phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Results from the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, are published January 15 in the journal Science.

"We found that humans and mice who had the same human genetic alteration also had greater difficulty in extinguishing an anxious-like response to adverse stimuli," explains Dr. B.J. Casey, co-senior author of the study and professor of psychology in psychiatry from The Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

The researchers observed common behavioral responses between humans and mice that possess an alteration in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene. The mice were genetically altered -- meaning that they had a human genetic variation inserted within their genome.

To make their comparison, the researchers paired a harmless stimulus with an aversive one, which elicits an anxious-like response, known as conditioned fear. Following fear learning, exposure to numerous presentations of the harmless stimulus alone, in the absence of the aversive stimulus, normally leads to subjects extinguishing this fear response. That is, a subject should eventually stop having an anxious response towards the harmless stimulus.

"But both the mice and humans found to have the alternation in the BDNF gene took significantly longer to 'get over' the innocuous stimuli and stop having a conditioned fear response," explains Dr. Fatima Soliman, lead author of the study, who is currently a Tri-Institutional MD-PhD student, and has completed her Ph.D. in the labs of Drs. B.J. Casey and Francis S. Lee.

In addition to the observational testing, the researchers also performed brain scans using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), on the human participants, to see if brain function differed between people with the abnormal BDNF gene and those with normal BDNF genes.

They found that a circuit in the brain involving the frontal cortex and amygdala -- responsible for learning about cues that signal safety and danger -- was altered in people with the abnormality, when compared with control participants who did not have the abnormality.

"Testing for this gene may one day help doctors make more informed decisions for treatment of anxiety disorders," explains Dr. Francis S. Lee, co-senior author of the study and associate professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Therapists use exposure therapy -- a type of behavior therapy in which the patient confronts a feared situation, object, thought, or memory -- to treat individuals who experience stress and anxiety due to certain situations. Sometimes, exposure therapy involves reliving a traumatic experience in a controlled, therapeutic environment and is based on principles of extinction learning. The goal is to reduce the distress, physical or emotional, felt in situations that trigger negative emotion. Exposure therapy is often used for the treatment of anxiety, phobias and PTSD.

"Exposure therapy may still work for patients with this gene abnormality, but a positive test for the BDNF genetic variant may let doctors know that exposure therapy may take longer, and that the use of newer drugs may be necessary to accelerate extinction learning," explains Dr. Soliman.

Co-authors of the study include Dr. Charles Glatt, Dr. Kevin Bath, Dr. Liat Levita, Rebecca Jones, Siobhan Pattwell, Dr. Deqiang Jing, Dr. Nim Tottenham, Dr. Dima Amso, Dr. Leah Somerville, Dr. Henning Voss, Dr. Douglas Ballon, Dr. Conor Liston, Theresa Teslovich and Tracey Van Kempen, all from Weill Cornell; and Dr. Gary Glover, from Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College. "Mice and humans with same anxiety-related gene abnormality behave similarly." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100114153002.htm>.
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College. (2010, January 19). Mice and humans with same anxiety-related gene abnormality behave similarly. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100114153002.htm
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College. "Mice and humans with same anxiety-related gene abnormality behave similarly." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100114153002.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
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