Social stress and the inflamed brain

April 21, 2013

Depression is the leading cause of disability with more than 350 million people globally affected by this disease. In addition to debilitating consequences on mental health, depression predisposes an individual to physiological disease such as heart disease, and conversely heart disease increases the risk of depression. According to the World Health Organization by the year 2020 heart disease and depression will be the number one and number two leading causes of disability in developed countries. While the co-occurrence of these disorders is well recognized, an understanding of the underlying mechanisms that lead to this relationship are lacking.

Dr. Susan K. Wood, a Research Associate at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, investigates brain-related biomarkers for depression-heart disease comorbidity. She uses a of social stress likened to bullying in people that she has found to produce depressive-like behaviors and dysfunctional in a susceptible subset of rodents. Her previous work highlighted a role for the stress-related neurohormone corticotropin-releasing factor in rendering an individual vulnerable to stress-induced depression and heart disease. Intrigued by what other biomarkers may be distinct her latest study is the first to identify gene and protein expression differences in the brains of rodents that are either vulnerable or resilient to developing stress-induced depressive-like behaviors and cardiovascular dysfunction.

The study, conducted in male rats, compared expression of 88 genes involved in signaling within the brain between socially stressed and non-stressed rats. It revealed more than 35 genes in stressed rats that had altered expression compared with non-stressed controls. Many of the genes that were differentially expressed were related to inflammation. Follow-up studies measuring protein levels revealed that Interleukin-1β and Monocyte chemotactic protein-1, known to play a role in depression and heart disease, were suppressed in the brains of the resilient subset of rats and Interleukin-1β was increased in the vulnerable group. Dr. Wood measured the gene and under resting conditions 24 hours after just 5 daily 30-minute exposures to .

The identification of factors in the brain that distinguish susceptibility and resiliency to depression and heart disease comorbidity would be a major advance in predicting, preventing and treating these disorders. Dr. Wood is continuing these studies as an Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine with the hope that these findings will uncover new targets to treat the mind and body.

Her findings will be presented April 21st, 2013 during Experimental Biology 2013 in Boston, MA.

Explore further: New evidence for link between depression and heart disease

Related Stories

New evidence for link between depression and heart disease

February 19, 2013
A Loyola University Medical Center psychiatrist is proposing a new subspecialty to diagnose and treat patients who suffer both depression and heart disease. He's calling it "Psychocardiology."

Depression in young people increases risk of heart disease mortality

November 11, 2011
The negative effects of depression in young people on the health of their hearts may be stronger than previously recognized. Depression or a history of suicide attempts in people younger than 40, especially young women, markedly ...

Depression can lead to heart disease

November 28, 2011
Depression may have more far-reaching consequences than previously believed. Recent data suggests that individuals who suffer from a mood disorder could be twice as likely to have a heart attack compared to individuals who ...

Recommended for you

Toddlers begin learning rules of reading, writing at very early age, study finds

July 25, 2017
Even the proudest of parents may struggle to find some semblance of meaning behind the seemingly random mish-mash of letters that often emerge from a toddler's first scribbled and scrawled attempts at putting words on paper.

Using money to buy time linked to increased happiness

July 24, 2017
New research is challenging the age-old adage that money can't buy happiness.

Exposure to violence hinders short-term memory, cognitive control

July 24, 2017
Being exposed to and actively remembering violent episodes—even those that happened up to a decade before—hinders short-term memory and cognitive control, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National ...

Researchers pave new path toward preventing obesity

July 24, 2017
People who experience unpredictable childhoods due to issues such as divorce, crime or frequent moves face a higher risk of becoming obese as adults, according to a new study by a Florida State University researcher.

Higher cognitive abilities linked to greater risk of stereotyping

July 24, 2017
People with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes, finds a new study. The results, stemming from a series of experiments, show that those with higher cognitive abilities also more ...

Psychologists say our 'attachment style' applies to social networks like Facebook

July 24, 2017
A new investigation appearing this week in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests a strong association between a person's attachment style—how avoidant or anxious people are in their close relationships—and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.