Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genetics and Sociality

29.11.2011
Researchers show in the journal “PNAS” how friends can relieve stress

Social support from family and friends is one of the most powerful protective factors against stress-related diseases - from heart attacks to depression. Prof. Markus Heinrichs, Professor of Biological Psychology at the University of Freiburg, demonstrated in 2003 for the first time in humans that the neurohormone oxytocin plays a central role in both the control of stress and the stress-reducing effect of social support. He has also shown in a series of studies that oxytocin administered as a nasal spray increases trust and empathy for others and therefore has therapeutic potential for a range of mental disorders.

But could the oxytocin system also help explain why support from close friends and family has very different effects on individuals?

In the current issue of the prestigious scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the Freiburg psychologists and neuroscientists Prof. Markus Heinrichs, Dr. Frances S. Chen, Dr. Robert Kumsta, and Dr. Bernadette von Dawans, together with the researchers Prof. Richard P. Ebstein and Dr. Mikhail Monakhov of the National University of Singapore, examined for the first time genetic modulation of social support’s effectiveness during stress through variants of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR). The hormonal and subjective stress responses of 200 adults to a standardized social stress test were studied; half of the sample was asked to bring a close friend for support. “The presence of a friend during preparation for the test reduced stress in most people; interestingly, however, the group of people carrying a particular variant of the oxytocin receptor gene did not benefit from the support" said Frances S. Chen. For Markus Heinrichs, these results have far-reaching consequences for current research on new therapeutic approaches: "The ‘psychobiological therapy' we are currently developing involves a completely new combination of oxytocin and psychotherapy for mental disorders involving social deficits – here, it is of great relevance to understand how ‘sensitive’ this system is in different patients.”

Original Publication:
Chen, F.S.*, Kumsta, R.*, von Dawans, B., Monakhov, M., Ebstein, R.P. & Heinrichs, M. (2011). Common oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) polymorphism and social support interact to reduce stress in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), in press. (* shared first authorship)

www.psychologie.uni-freiburg.de/abteilungen/psychobio

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Markus Heinrichs
Department of Psychology
University of Freiburg
Phone: 0049-761-203-3029
Fax: 0049-761-203-3023
E-mail: heinrichs@psychologie.uni-freiburg.de

Prof. Dr. Markus Heinrichs | University of Freiburg
Further information:
http://www.uni-freiburg.de

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Some brain tumors may respond to immunotherapy, new study suggests
11.12.2018 | Columbia University Irving Medical Center

nachricht Climate change and air pollution damaging health and causing millions of premature deaths
30.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magic number colloidal clusters

13.12.2018 | Life Sciences

UNLV study unlocks clues to how planets form

13.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis

13.12.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>