Research finds new clues linking stress and depression

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Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden identified a protein in the brain that is important both for the function of the mood-regulating substance serotonin and for the release of stress hormones in mice, findings, which may have implications for the development of new drugs for depression and anxiety, according to a new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

For the study, researchers show that a protein called p11 plays an important role in the function of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates mood. The study shows p11 affects the initial release of the stress hormone cortisol in mice by modulating the activity of specific neurons in the brain area hypothalamus. Through a completely different signaling pathway originating in the brainstem, p11 also affects the release of two other stress hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline, the researchers said.

In addition, the tests showed that mice with p11 deficiency react more strongly to stress, with a higher heart rate and more signs of anxiety, compared to mice with normal p11 levels, according to the study.

After experiencing trauma or severe stress, some people develop an abnormal stress response or chronic stress. This increases the risk of developing other diseases such as depression and anxiety, the researchers said.

The researchers believe that the findings may have implications for the development of new treatments.