Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers search for earliest roots of psychiatric disorders

Date:
April 10, 2014
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
A single molecular mechanism in the developing brain has been identified that sheds light on how cells may go awry when exposed to a variety of different environmental insults. The findings suggest that different types of stressors prenatally activate a single molecular trigger in brain cells that may make exposed individuals susceptible to late-onset neuropsychiatric disorders.

Newborns whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy to any one of a variety of environmental stressors -- such as trauma, illness, and alcohol or drug abuse -- become susceptible to various psychiatric disorders that frequently arise later in life. However, it has been unclear how these stressors affect the cells of the developing brain prenatally and give rise to conditions such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and some forms of autism and bipolar disorders.

Related Articles


Now, Yale University researchers have identified a single molecular mechanism in the developing brain that sheds light on how cells may go awry when exposed to a variety of different environmental insults. The findings, to be published in the May 7 issue of the journal Neuron, suggest that different types of stressors prenatally activate a single molecular trigger in brain cells that may make exposed individuals susceptible to late-onset neuropsychiatric disorders.

The researchers found that mouse embryos exposed to alcohol, methyl-mercury, or maternal seizures all activate in the developing brain cells a single gene -- HSF1 or heat shock factor -- which protects and enables some of the brain cells to survive prenatal insult. Mice lacking the HSF1 gene showed structural brain abnormalities and were prone to seizures after birth, even after exposure to very low levels of the toxins.

In addition, researchers created stem cells -- which are capable of becoming many different tissue types, including neurons -- from biopsies of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. Genes from these "schizophrenic" stem cells responded more dramatically when exposed to environmental insults than stem cells obtained from non-schizophrenic individuals. The findings provide support to the thesis that stress induces vulnerable cells to malfunction.

"It appears that different types of environmental stressors can trigger the same condition if they occur at the same period of prenatal development," said Yale's Pasko Rakic, senior author of the study. "Conversely, the same environmental stressor may cause different pathologies, if it occurs at different times during pregnancy."

Since HSF1 activation can potentially serve as a permanent marker of the stressed/damaged cell, it opens the possibility of identifying these cells in adults in order to explore the pathogenesis of postnatal disorders and how to protect vulnerable cells.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. The original article was written by Bill Hathaway. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kazue Hashimoto-Torii, Masaaki Torii, Mitsuaki Fujimoto, Akira Nakai, Rachid ElFatimy, Valerie Mezger, MinJ. Ju, Seiji Ishii, Shih-hui Chao, KristenJ. Brennand, FredH. Gage, Pasko Rakic. Roles of Heat Shock Factor 1 in Neuronal Response to Fetal Environmental Risks and Its Relevance to Brain Disorders. Neuron, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.03.002

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Researchers search for earliest roots of psychiatric disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410122114.htm>.
Yale University. (2014, April 10). Researchers search for earliest roots of psychiatric disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410122114.htm
Yale University. "Researchers search for earliest roots of psychiatric disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410122114.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. 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