Wednesday December 12, 2018

Social Isolation Can Lead to Increase in Stress

Researchers have found that long-term chronic isolation causes the build-up of a chemical in the brain, that increases stress, aggression, and fear.

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But, administration of a drug that chemically blocks NkB-specific receptors enabled the stressed mice to behave normally, eliminating the negative effects of social isolation.
Representational image. Wikimedia Commons
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Researchers have found that long-term chronic isolation causes the build-up of a chemical in the brain, that increases stress, aggression, and fear.

The mice isolated for two weeks showed behavioral changes like increased aggressiveness towards unfamiliar mice, persistent fear, and hypersensitivity to threatening stimuli.

When encountering a threatening stimulus, mice that have been socially isolated remain frozen in place long after the threat has passed, whereas normal mice stop freezing soon after the threat is removed, the research said.

Although the study was done in mice, it has potential implications for understanding how chronic stress affects humans and has potential applications for treating mental health disorders, said lead author Moriel Zelikowsky, a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology in the US.

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A new study suggests meditation can reduce stress and anxiety. VOA

Previous studies have determined that social isolation for two weeks in mice resulted in the upregulation of the signaling molecule neuropeptide, tachykinin 2 (Tac2)/neurokinin B (NkB) — a short protein molecule.

In the new study, published in the journal Cell, the team found that chronic isolation leads to an increase in Tac2 gene expression and the production of a neuropeptide called neurokinin B (NkB) throughout the brain.

But, administration of a drug that chemically blocks NkB-specific receptors enabled the stressed mice to behave normally, eliminating the negative effects of social isolation.

Also Read: Father’s Stress Linked To Kids’ Brain Development

On the other hand, artificially increasing Tac2 levels and activating the corresponding neurons in normal, animals led them to behave like isolated and stressed, the research showed.

Suppressing the Tac2 gene in certain different brain parts, increased fear behaviors, or aggression accordingly, implying that it must increase in different brain regions to produce the various effects of social isolation, the researchers said. (IANS)

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Human Body May Not Cope With Evening Stress, Study Reveals

The team first measured the diurnal rhythm of salivary cortisol levels from the volunteers and then exposed one group to stress test in the morning, and another to the evening

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Your body may not cope with evening stress: Study. Pixabay

Human bodies which experience stress in the evening release less cortisol — the primary stress hormone in humans — compared to stressful events in the morning, and thus may pose vulnerabilities, according to a new research.

The study, led by medical physiologist Yujiro Yamanaka at Japan’s Hokkaido University, the body’s central system reacts less strongly to acute psychological stress in the evening than it does in the morning, suggesting possible vulnerability to stressful events in the evening.

“Our study suggests a possible vulnerability to stress in the evening. However, it is important to take into account each individual’s unique biological clock and the time of day when assessing the response to stressors and preventing them,” Yamanaka commented.

The study, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology Reports, explored a small group of young and healthy volunteers with normal work hours and sleep habits to find out if the “hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal” (HPA) axis responds differently to acute psychological stress according to the time of day.

The HPA axis connects the central nervous and endocrine systems of the body. Cortisol is released for several hours when the HPA axis is activated by a stressful event.

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Representational image. Pixabay

This helps provide the body with energy in the face of a perceived need for fight or flight. Cortisol levels are also regulated by a master circadian clock in the brain and are normally high in the morning and low in the evening.

The team first measured the diurnal rhythm of salivary cortisol levels from the volunteers and then exposed one group to stress test in the morning, and another to the evening.

Also Read- Millions Of Urban Children Worse Than Rural People: UNICEF

The researchers found that salivary cortisol levels increased significantly in the volunteers that took the stress test in the morning while no such response was observed in those that took the test in the evening.

“Our body can respond to the morning stress event by activating the HPA axis and sympathetic nervous system, but it needs to respond to evening stress event by activating the sympathetic nervous system only,” Yamanaka said. (IANS)