New 'Chemical Pathway' in the Brain for Stress: Breakthrough Offers Hope for Targeted Treatment of Stress-Related Disorders

Apr. 20, 2011 —
Science Daily/University of Leicester
A team of neuroscientists at the University of Leicester, UK, in collaboration with researchers from Poland and Japan, has announced a breakthrough in the understanding of the 'brain chemistry' that triggers our response to highly stressful and traumatic events.

The study found that the emotional centre of the brain -- the amygdala -- reacts to stress by increasing production of a protein called neuropsin. This triggers a series of chemical events which in turn cause the amygdala to increase its activity. As a consequence, a gene is turned on that determines the stress response at a cellular level.

"However when the proteins produced by the amygdala were blocked -- either pharmacologically or by gene therapy -- the mice did not exhibit the same traits. The behavioural consequences of stress were no longer present. We conclude that the activity of neuropsin and its partners may determine vulnerability to stress."

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