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Discovery hints at why stress is more devastating for some
Date:9/2/2014

Some people take stress in stride; others are done in by it. New research at Rockefeller University has identified the molecular mechanisms of this so-called stress gap in mice with very similar genetic backgrounds a finding that could lead researchers to better understand the development of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression.

"Like people, each animal has unique experiences as it goes through its life. And we suspect that these life experiences can alter the expression of genes, and as a result, affect an animal's susceptibility to stress," says senior author Bruce McEwen, Alfred E. Mirsky Professor and head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology. "We have taken an important step toward explaining the molecular origins of this stress gap by showing that inbred mice react differently to stress, with some developing behaviors that resemble anxiety and depression, and others remaining resilient."

The results, published September 2 in Molecular Psychiatry, point toward potential new markers to aid the diagnosis of stress-related disorders, such as anxiety and depression and a promising route to the development of new treatments for these devastating disorders.

In experiments, researchers stressed the mice by exposing them to daily, unpredictable bouts of cage tilting, altered dark-light cycles, confinement in tight spaces and other conditions mice dislike with the goal of reproducing the sort of stressful experiences thought to be a primary cause of depression in humans. Afterward, in tests to see if the mice displayed the rodent equivalent of anxiety and depression symptoms, they found about 40 percent showed high levels of behaviors that included a preference for a dark compartment over a brightly lit one, or a loss of interest in sugar water. The remaining 60 percent coped well with the stress. This distinction between the susceptible mice and the resilient ones was so
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Contact: Zach Veilleux
veillez@rockefeller.edu
212-327-8982
Rockefeller University
Source:Eurekalert  

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