Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Anticipation of stressful situations accelerates cellular aging

Date:
February 21, 2012
Source:
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Summary:
The ability to anticipate future events allows us to plan and exert control over our lives, but it may also contribute to stress-related increased risk for the diseases of aging, according to a new study.

The ability to anticipate future events allows us to plan and exert control over our lives, but it may also contribute to stress-related increased risk for the diseases of aging, according to a study by UCSF researchers.

In a study of 50 women, about half of them caring for relatives with dementia, the psychologists found that those most threatened by the anticipation of stressful tasks in the laboratory and through public speaking and solving math problems, looked older at the cellular level. The researchers assessed cellular age by measuring telomeres, which are the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes. Short telomeres index older cellular age and are associated with increased risk for a host of chronic diseases of aging, including cancer, heart disease and stroke.

"We are getting closer to understanding how chronic stress translates into the present moment," said Elissa Epel, PhD, an associate professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and a lead investigator on the study. "As stress researchers, we try to examine the psychological process of how people respond to a stressful event and how that impacts their neurobiology and cellular health. And we're making some strides in that."

The researchers also found evidence that caregivers anticipated more threat than non-caregivers when told that they would be asked to perform the same public speaking and math tasks. This tendency to anticipate more threat put them at increased risk for short telomeres. Based on that, the researchers propose that higher levels of anticipated threat in daily life may promote cellular aging in chronically stressed individuals.

"How you respond to a brief stressful experience in the laboratory may reveal a lot about how you respond to stressful experiences in your daily life," said Aoife O'Donovan, PhD, a Society in Science: Branco Weiss Fellow at UCSF and the study's lead author. "Our findings are preliminary for now, but they suggest that the major forms of stress in your life may influence how your respond to more minor forms of stress, such as losing your keys, getting stuck in traffic or leading a meeting at work. Our goal is to gain better understanding of how psychological stress promotes biological aging so that we can design targeted interventions that reduce risk for disease in stressed individuals. We now have preliminary evidence that higher anticipatory threat perception may be one such mechanism."

The study will be published in the May issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Research on telomeres, and the enzyme that makes them, was pioneered by three Americans, including UCSF molecular biologist and co-author on this manuscript Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, who co-discovered the telomerase enzyme in 1985. The scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for this work.

The research related to anticipation was funded by grants from the Division of Behavioral and Social Research at the National Institute of Aging/National Institutes of Health and Bernard and Barbro Foundation as well as by a Society in Science: Branco Weiss Fellowship.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The original article was written by Juliana Bunim. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aoife O’Donovan, A. Janet Tomiyama, Jue Lin, Eli Puterman, Nancy E. Adler, Margaret Kemeny, Owen M. Wolkowitz, Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Elissa S. Epel. Stress appraisals and cellular aging: A key role for anticipatory threat in the relationship between psychological stress and telomere length. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2012.01.007

Cite This Page:

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). "Anticipation of stressful situations accelerates cellular aging." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120221165803.htm>.
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). (2012, February 21). Anticipation of stressful situations accelerates cellular aging. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120221165803.htm
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). "Anticipation of stressful situations accelerates cellular aging." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120221165803.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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