JUPITER, FL, August 22, 2011 Working closely with a team of researchers from Duke University, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have helped identify a molecular pathway that plays a key role in stress-related damage to the genome, the entirety of an organism's hereditary information.
The new findings, published in the journal Nature on August 21, 2011, could not only explain the development of certain human disorders, they could also offer a potential model for prevention and therapy.
While the human mind and body are built to respond to stressthe well-known "fight or flight" response, which lasts only a few minutes and raises heart rate and blood glucose levelsthe response itself can cause significant damage if maintained over long periods of time.
When stress becomes chronic, this natural response can lead to a number of disease-related symptoms including peptic ulcers and cardiovascular disorders. To make matters worse, evidence indicates that chronic stress eventually leads to DNA damage, which in turn can result in various neuropsychiatric conditions, miscarriages, cancer, and even aging itself.
Until the new study, however, exactly how chronic stress wreaks havoc on DNA was basically unknown.
"Precisely how chronic stress leads to DNA damage is not fully understood," said Derek Duckett, associate scientific director of the Translational Research Institute at Scripps Florida. "Our research now outlines a novel mechanism highlighting β-arrestin-1 as an important player."
The long-term effects of these stress hormones on DNA damage identified in the study represent a conceptual as well as a tangible advance, according to Robert J. Lefkowitz, a Duke University professor of medicine who led the study.
Since stress is not time-limited and can be sustained over months or even years, it is well appreciated that persistent stress may have adverse effects
|Contact: Eric Sauter|
Scripps Research Institute