Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Turning off stress

Date:
March 8, 2011
Source:
Weizmann Institute of Science
Summary:
New research has revealed the actions of a family of proteins that "turn off" the stress response. The findings could be relevant to PTSD, anorexia, anxiety disorders and depression.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect soldiers after combat or ordinary people who have undergone harrowing experiences. Of course, feelings of anxiety are normal and even desirable -- they are part of what helps us survive in a world of real threats. But no less crucial is the return to normal -- the slowing of the heartbeat and relaxation of tension -- after the threat has passed. People who have a hard time "turning off" their stress response are candidates for post-traumatic stress syndrome, as well as anorexia, anxiety disorders and depression.

How does the body recover from responding to shock or acute stress? This question is at the heart of research conducted by Dr. Alon Chen of the Institute's Neurobiology Department. The response to stress begins in the brain, and Chen concentrates on a family of proteins that play a prominent role in regulating this mechanism. One protein in the family -- CRF -- is known to initiate a chain of events that occurs when we cope with pressure, and scientists have hypothesized that other members of the family are involved in shutting down that chain. In research that appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Chen and his team have now, for the first time, provided sound evidence that three family members known as urocortin 1, 2 and 3 -- are responsible for turning off the stress response.

The research group, including Adi Neufeld Cohen, Dr. Michael Tsoory, Dmitriy Getselter, and Shosh Gil, created genetically engineered mice that don't produce the three urocortin proteins. Before they were exposed to stress, these mice acted just like the control mice, showing no unusual anxiety. When the scientists stressed the mice, both groups reacted in the same way, showing clear signs of distress. Differences between the groups only appeared when they were checked 24 hours after the stressful episode: While the control mice had returned to their normal behavior, appearing to have recovered completely from the shock, the engineered mice were still showing the same levels of anxiety the scientists had observed immediately following their exposure to the stress.

Clearly, the urocortin proteins are crucial for returning to normal, but how, exactly, do they do this? To identify the mechanism for the proteins' activity, Chen and his team tested both groups of mice for expression levels of a number of genes known to be involved in the stress response. They found that gene expression levels remained constant during and after stress in the engineered mice, whereas patterns of gene expression in the control mice had changed quite a bit 24 hours after the fact. In other words, without the urocortin system, the "return to normal" program couldn't be activated.

Chen: "Our findings imply that the urocortin system plays a central role in regulating stress responses, and this may have implications for such diseases as anxiety disorders, depression and anorexia. The genetically engineered mice we created could be effective research models for these diseases."

Dr. Alon Chen's research is supported by the Nella and Leon Benoziyo Center for Neurosciences; the Nella and Leon Benoziyo Center for Neurological Diseases; the Carl and Micaela Einhorn-Dominic Brain Research Institute; the Irwin Green Alzheimer's Research Fund; the Mark Besen and the Pratt Foundation, Australia; the Roberto and Renata Ruhman, Brazil; and Martine Turcotte, Canada. Dr. Chen is the incumbent of the Philip Harris and Gerald Ronson Career Development Chair.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Neufeld-Cohen, M. M. Tsoory, A. K. Evans, D. Getselter, S. Gil, C. A. Lowry, W. W. Vale, A. Chen. A triple urocortin knockout mouse model reveals an essential role for urocortins in stress recovery. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; 107 (44): 19020 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1013761107

Cite This Page:

Weizmann Institute of Science. "Turning off stress." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208101316.htm>.
Weizmann Institute of Science. (2011, March 8). Turning off stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208101316.htm
Weizmann Institute of Science. "Turning off stress." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208101316.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. 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:
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