Disrupted gene activity: How early childhood stress can damage the brain

Researchers at Gutenberg University have discovered an effect that could explain how early childhood stress damages the brain in the long run. This could lead t

Disrupted gene activity: How early childhood stress can damage the brain
Researchers at Gutenberg University have discovered an effect that could explain how early childhood stress damages the brain in the long run. This could lead to new approaches for therapies. The scientists led by Giulia Treccani have focused on the function of the so-called glial cells. These not only support the nerve cells of the brain, but also communicate with them.

Treccani and her colleagues studied in mice how stress at an early stage of life affects the reading of genes in a particular type of glial cell. As it turned out, there is a connection between the gene activities and the concentration of the stress hormone corticosterone. Upregulated was a gene that codes for a subunit of a voltage-activated sodium ion channel. Such channels play a role in the exchange of information between glial cells and nerve cells. In stressed mice, the current density in the ion channels increased. The activity of the gene in question was also increased in adult mice. At the same time, the brain power of these animals was limited.

However, not all mice were affected to the same extent. According to Treccani, this finding coincides with observations in humans: even in them, early childhood trauma would have different effects.

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Updated Date: 27 October 2021, 00:01

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