Genetics play a role in how we respond to stress

Genetics play a role in how we respond to stress

Study results recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that the genetic variants that regulate the sensitivity to the repercussions of stress have an effect on the risk of psychiatric problems.

Researchers were looking to understand why some people are able to deal well with stress yet others develop psychiatric disorders. The researchers decided to look at this on a molecular level. They used various techniques to examine many genetic variants concurrently in order to comprehend how they affect cells in their reaction to stress.

Scientists modeled stress with dexamethasone, which is a synthetic molecule that imitates the effect of cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Scientists were able to identify more than 500 regions in the brain that responded to stress as well as 79 variants that affected gene expression only when treated with dexamethasone. Results revealed that some of the variants had an effect on the risk of psychiatric disorders emerging in certain individuals. 

Researchers believe these results are critical for predicting who might have a higher risk for developing psychiatric disorders in response to stress, and this knowledge could be used to help prevent and treat psychiatric disorders.


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