However, we still have a relatively limited understanding of exactly how stress contributes to the risk for illness. In the August 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry, researchers shed new light on one link between stress and illness by describing a mechanism through which stress alters immune function.
In a very promising preliminary study, Miller and colleagues found that the pattern of gene expression differed between caregivers of family members with cancer relative to a matched group of individuals who did not have this type of life stress.
They found that among the caregivers, even though they had normal cortisol levels in their blood, the pattern of gene expression in the monocytes, a type of white blood cell involved in the body’s immune response, was altered so that they were relatively less responsive to the anti-inflammatory actions of cortisol, but relatively more responsive to pro-inflammatory actions of a transcription factor called nuclear factor-kappa B, or NF-?B. Gregory Miller, Ph.D., corresponding author, explains more simply that, although “caregivers have similar cortisol levels as controls, their cells seem to be ‘hearing’ less of this signal. In other words, something goes awry in caregivers’ white blood cells so they are not able to ‘receive’ the signal from cortisol that tells them to shut down inflammation.”
Thus, the current findings might help to explain why the caregivers would seem to be in a chronic pro-inflammatory state, a condition of immunologic activation. This activated state could contribute to the risk for a number of medical illnesses, such as depression, heart disease, and diabetes. Dr. Miller remarks that part of the importance of these findings is “because people have traditionally thought that higher cortisol is the reason that stress contributes to disease, but this work shows that, at least in caregivers, it's actually the opposite - there's too little cortisol signal being heard by the cells, rather than too much.”
However, many important related questions still remain unanswered, as noted by John H. Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry and affiliated with both Yale University School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. He comments that in addition to not knowing how stress produces these altered patterns of gene expression in the immune system, “we don’t know how to account for the resilience of some stressed people exposed to severe sustained stress or the vulnerability of some people to relatively mild stress.” He adds that “the better that we understand the underlying molecular mechanisms that link stress to illness, the more likely we are to make progress in answering these important questions,” and this article is certainly a vital step in that direction.
Jayne Dawkins | alfa
Infants later diagnosed with autism follow adults’ gaze, but seldom initiate joint attention
24.05.2019 | Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council
When wheels and heads are spinning - DFG research project on motion sickness in automated driving
22.05.2019 | Technische Universität Berlin
A new assessment of NASA's record of global temperatures revealed that the agency's estimate of Earth's long-term temperature rise in recent decades is accurate to within less than a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, providing confidence that past and future research is correctly capturing rising surface temperatures.
The most complete assessment ever of statistical uncertainty within the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) data product shows that the annual values...
Physicists at the University of Basel are able to show for the first time how a single electron looks in an artificial atom. A newly developed method enables them to show the probability of an electron being present in a space. This allows improved control of electron spins, which could serve as the smallest information unit in a future quantum computer. The experiments were published in Physical Review Letters and the related theory in Physical Review B.
The spin of an electron is a promising candidate for use as the smallest information unit (qubit) of a quantum computer. Controlling and switching this spin or...
Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...
With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.
Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...
'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.
However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
24.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2019 | Medical Engineering
24.05.2019 | Life Sciences