A Korean research team discovered a substance in the brain that determines the ability to recover from stress, what was considered to be a personality feature before.
A research team headed by professors Kim Dong-gu, Kim Cheol-hoon, and Kang Ji-in at the Yonsei University College of Medicine announced on May 26 that they confirmed that a lack of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5), a G protein-coupled receptor that in humans is encoded by the GRM5 gene, triggers a dramatic decrease in stress-recovery ability.
They expected that this receptor related to learning and memory would play an important role in stress recovery. Therefore, they created a stressful environment in which a control group and an experimental group of mice deprived of this receptor through genetic manipulation were exposed. After observing the behavior of the two groups, the research team found that the experimental group generally cowered, as shown by their tendency to stay in the corner.
After analyzing substances in the brain of mice based on the results of their experiment, the research team discovered that the mGluR5 of the control group that successfully coped with the stressful environment was activated, which led to the manifestation of DeltaFosB, a stress-recovery substance. It indicates that the activation of mGluR5 triggers the manifestation of DeltaFosB, raising the possibility of artificially controlling stress.
Professor Kim explained, “Our study gives hope that it is possible to control stress by discovering that stress-recovery factors are in the brain.” He added, “I think that we can find a way to cope with stress that causes and aggravates illnesses of the body and mind such as depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, or lifestyle diseases including cancer.”
The research findings were first published online by Nature Neuroscience, a monthly scientific journal published by the Nature Publishing Group.