Genes determine the traces of stress

Genes determine the traces of stress

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Researchers were able to show that individual genetic requirements are responsible for the effect that stress has on our emotion centers. They discovered that a complex interplay of depression gene variants and life events determines the impact that stress has on the hippocampus.

The hippocampus is considered the central interface in stress processing. It is known that he is very sensitive to stress. When stress is interpreted as a danger to the organism, it loses volume, which is often observed in depressed patients and is responsible for part of the clinical symptoms. In turn, positive stress can even increase the volume of the hippocampus.

How stressful life events affect the size of the hippocampus does not depend entirely on the environmental factors, according to the study results. It is the genes that determine whether one and the same life event leads to an increase or decrease in the volume of the hippocampus and thus determine whether the stress is good or bad for our brain. The more risk genes a person has, the more negative “life events” affect the size of the hippocampus. With no or only a few risk genes, this life event can even have a positive effect. (pm)

Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixelio

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