Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New brain-based marker of stress susceptibility: Finding might help prevent mental illnesses linked with stress

Date:
July 29, 2014
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Some people handle stressful situations better than others, and it's not all in their genes: Even identical twins show differences in how they respond to adversity. Researchers have identified an electrical pattern in the brains of genetically identical mice that predicts how well individual animals will fare in stressful situations. The results may eventually help researchers prevent a range of mental illnesses that have been linked with stress.

Some people can handle stressful situations better than others, and it's not all in their genes: Even identical twins show differences in how they respond.

Researchers have identified a specific electrical pattern in the brains of genetically identical mice that predicts how well individual animals will fare in stressful situations.

The findings, published July 29 in Nature Communications, may eventually help researchers prevent potential consequences of chronic stress -- such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other psychiatric disorders -- in people who are prone to these problems.

"In soldiers, we have this dramatic, major stress exposure, and in some individuals it's leading to major issues, such as problems sleeping or being around other people," said senior author Kafui Dzirasa, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center and a member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. "If we can find that common trigger or common pathway and tune it, we may be able to prevent the emergence of a range of mental illnesses down the line."

In the new study, Dzirasa's team analyzed the interaction between two interconnected brain areas that control fear and stress responses in both mice and men: the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. The amygdala plays a role in the 'fight-or-flight' response. The prefrontal cortex is involved in planning and other higher-level functions. It suppresses the amygdala's reactivity to danger and helps people continue to function in stressful situations.

Implanting electrodes into the brains of the mice allowed the researchers to listen in on the tempo at which the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala were firing and how tightly the two areas were linked -- with the ultimate goal of figuring whether the electrical pattern of cross talk could help decide how well animals would respond when faced with an acute stressor.

Indeed, in mice that had been subjected to a chronically stressful situation -- daily exposure to an aggressive male mouse for about two weeks -- the degree to which the prefrontal cortex seemed to control amygdala activity was related to how well the animals coped with the stress, the group found.

Next the group looked at how the brain reacted to the first instance of stress, before the mice were put in a chronically stressful situation. The mice more sensitive to chronic stress showed greater activation of their prefrontal cortex-amygdala circuit, compared with resilient mice.

"We were really both surprised and excited to find that this signature was present in the animals before they were chronically stressed," Dzirasa said. "You can find this signature the very first time they were ever exposed to this aggressive dangerous experience."

Dzirasa hopes to use the signatures to come up with potential treatments for stress. "If we pair the signatures and treatments together, can we prevent symptoms from emerging, even when an animal is stressed? That's the first question," he said.

The group also hopes to delve further into the brain, to see whether the circuit-level patterns can interact with genetic variations that confer risk for psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. The new study will enable Dzirasa and other basic researchers to segregate stress-susceptible and resilient animals before they are subjected to stress and look at their molecular, cellular and systemic differences.

This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (R37MH073853, R01MH099192), International Mental Health Research Organization RSA, BBRF Sidney R. Baer Jr. Research Prize, and the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Sunil Kumar, Rainbo Hultman, Dalton Hughes, Nadine Michel, Brittany M. Katz, Kafui Dzirasa. Prefrontal cortex reactivity underlies trait vulnerability to chronic social defeat stress. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5537

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "New brain-based marker of stress susceptibility: Finding might help prevent mental illnesses linked with stress." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140729101148.htm>.
Duke University. (2014, July 29). New brain-based marker of stress susceptibility: Finding might help prevent mental illnesses linked with stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140729101148.htm
Duke University. "New brain-based marker of stress susceptibility: Finding might help prevent mental illnesses linked with stress." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140729101148.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 18, 2014) Researchers at The National University of Singapore have invented a new microneedle patch that could offer a faster and less painful delivery of drugs such as insulin and painkillers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) The first nurse to be diagnosed with Ebola at a Dallas hospital walked down the stairs of an executive jet into an ambulance at an airport in Frederick, Maryland, on Thursday. Pham will be treated at the National Institutes of Health. (Oct. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) A Caribbean cruise ship carrying a Dallas health care worker who is being monitored for signs of the Ebola virus is heading back to Texas, US, after being refused permission to dock in Cozumel, Mexico. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) All four suspected Ebola cases admitted to hospitals in Spain on Thursday have tested negative for the deadly virus in a first round of tests, the government said Friday. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
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