From Medical Xpress:
How do you feel when you are stuck in a traffic jam for hours? Or when you are late for a flight? Or when you are waiting at the university hall to pass an exam? Obviously, you feel stressed, which might endanger your hippocampus according to a research paper recently published in PLOS One by Stankiewicz and colleagues.
Stress is an alerting signal for the brain
The idea that stress may be hazardous for the brain is not new; indeed, discoveries continue to strengthen this concept. A large body of research has clearly shown that stress, especially when repeated and unpredictable, is capable of modifying the structure and the activity of neuronal circuits. In fact, stress is a risk factor for many mood-related disorders such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. Adaptive and maladaptive modifications take place in our brain to counteract stressors and these modifications could lead to severe mental pathologies. One of the most vulnerable structures of the brain is the hippocampus, a brain region greatly involved in learning and memory functions.
Social stress modifies the hippocampal transcriptome
Stankiewicz and colleagues decided to evaluate the impact of acute and chronic stress in the hippocampal transcriptome (set of transcribed genes) using a behavioral protocol of social stress. This paradigm relies on the ability to induce stress-like responses based on social aggression. In order to induce agonistic behaviors characteristic of stressful social encounters in mice such as upright postures, aggressive grooming, fights, and escape, single-housed mice were exposed to…