Why do some persons succumb to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while others who suffered the same ordeal do not? A new UCLA study may shed light on the answer. UCLA scientists have linked two genes involved in serotonin production to a higher risk of developing PTSD. Published in the April 3 online edition of the Journal of Affective Disorders, the findings suggest that susceptibility to PTSD is inherited, pointing to new ways of screening for and treating the disorder. "People can develop post-traumatic stress disorder after surviving a life-threatening ordeal like war, rape or a natural disaster, " explained lead author Dr. Armen Goenjian, a research professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. "If confirmed, our findings could eventually lead to new ways to screen people at risk for PTSD and target specific medicines for preventing and treating the disorder.
Repeated stress triggers the production and accumulation of insoluble tau protein aggregates inside the brain cells of mice, say researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in a new study published in the Online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The aggregates are similar to neurofibrillary tangles or NFTs, modified protein structures that are one of the physiological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. Lead author Robert A. Rissman, PhD, assistant professor of neurosciences, said the findings may at least partly explain why clinical studies have found a strong link between people prone to stress and development of sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD), which accounts for up to 95 percent of all AD cases in humans. "In the mouse models, we found that repeated episodes of emotional stress, which has been demonstrated to be comparable to what humans might experience in ordinary life, resulted in the phosphorylation and altered solubility of tau proteins in neurons, " Rissman said.
Your mother had a doctor's appointment for a memory test. The results are conclusive: she presents with the first signs of Alzheimer type dementia. Now, to get to her appointment, your mother, who is no longer used to driving in town, took her car, looked for a parking space for 15 minutes, got lost in a labyrinth of one-way streets, had never used those new electronic parking meters before and is convinced that the "machine" stole her credit card number. Out of breath, she walked 20 minutes looking for the doctor's office and finally arrived late for her appointment, even though at this advanced hour of the afternoon she usually has a nap. Could all of these elements have influenced the results of her memory test? A recent study carried out by Sonia Lupien's team at the Centre for Studies on Human Stress (CSHS) of the Louis-H.
A team of researchers led by Michael H. Antoni, director of the Center for Psycho-Oncology Research at the University of Miami (UM) has shown that a stress management program tailored to women with breast cancer can alter tumor-promoting processes at the molecular level. The new study recently published in the journal Biological Psychiatry is one of the first to link psychological intervention with genetic expression in cancer patients. According to the study, the group-based Cognitive-Behavioral Stress Management (CBSM) intervention designed by the researchers affects which genes in the cells of the immune system are turned on and off, in ways that may facilitate better recovery during treatment for breast cancer, explains Antoni, professor of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and program leader of Biobehavioral Oncology at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Sleep plays a powerful role in preserving our memories. But while recent research shows that wakefulness may cloud memories of negative or traumatic events, a new study has found that wakefulness also degrades positive memories. Sleep, it seems, protects positive memories just as it does negative ones, and that has important implications for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. "The study of how sleep helps us remember and process emotional information is still young, " says Alexis Chambers of the University of Notre Dame. Past work has focused on the role of negative memories for sleep, in particular how insomnia is a healthy biological response for people to reduce negative memories and emotions associated with a traumatic event. Two new studies presented this week at a meeting of cognitive neuroscientists in Chicago are exploring the flip side: how sleep treats the positive.