Navigation

Scientists find family of stress-related genes

Researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have discovered a group of genes that, when not functioning properly, can lead to stress and depression.

This content was published on December 11, 2008 - 20:13

Didier Trono, lead author of the study, found that a group of genes dubbed KRAB-ZFP allows organisms to absorb and manage stress. Without those genes, creatures have a hard time adapting to external events.

The findings were published on Thursday in the online journal "Neuron" and open new avenues for medical treatment.

"Nature gives us a large capacity, more or less, to soften stress," he said, adding that the genes are not very well studied. Together there are 400-500 genes in the family.

Trono carried out experiments on genetically modified mice that had suppressed functionality in the hippocampus area of the brain, a region responsible for some memory and emotions.

The modified mice seemed perfectly normal until they were subjected to stress, when they became incapable of performing simple cognitive tasks and grew disoriented. Those mice in an unmodified control group, however, adapted rapidly, suggesting they had "managed" their stress.

Drugs like cocaine can produce conditions similar to those created by the malfunctioning genes, he said.

This article was automatically imported from our old content management system. If you see any display errors, please let us know: community-feedback@swissinfo.ch

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI swissinfo.ch certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at english@swissinfo.ch.

Share this story

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?