They discover that modifying a gene in the brain could curb anxiety

He anxiety disorder It is the most common mental health problem in Spain and affects 88.4% of women and 45.2% of men at some point in their lives, according to data from the Ministry of Health. Experiencing severe psychological trauma can cause genetic, biochemical, and morphological alterations in neurons in the amygdala, an area of ​​the brain involved in stress-induced anxiety, leading to the onset of anxiety disorders, including stress disorder. post-traumatic and panic attacks.

The pharmacological treatment of these problems is based on anxiolytics, but up to now their efficacy has been low and they have not managed to make the problem go away in more than half of the patients, which is attributed to the fact that the neural circuits and the molecular events that result in stress-related neuropsychiatric states.

Now, a group of scientists has identified a gene in the brain that triggers the anxiety symptoms and has also verified that modifying this gene reduces anxiety levels, so it can become a therapeutic goal to control anxiety disorders. The study has been led by researchers from the University of Bristol and the University of Exeter and has been published in Nature Communications.

A breakthrough to develop better treatments for anxiety

The aim of the study authors was to identify the molecular events in the brain responsible for anxiety, and to do so they focused their analysis on a group of molecules known as miARN in animal models. These molecules are also found in the human brain and are responsible for regulating numerous target proteins that control cellular processes in the amygdala.

“Severe or prolonged traumatic experiences can overcome the protective mechanisms of stress resilience, leading to the development of pathological conditions such as depression or anxiety”

They observed that after acute stress there was an increased amount of a type of molecule called miR483-5p in mouse amygdala and verified that the increase of miR483-5p suppressed the Pgap2 gene expression, which promotes changes in the morphology of neurons in the brain and in behavior related to anxiety. These scientists demonstrated that miR-483-5p acts as a molecular brake that compensates for stress-induced changes in the amygdala to alleviate anxiety.

The discovery of this new miR483-5p/Pgap2 amygdala pathway what the brain uses to regulate your stress response It is the first step to discover new, more powerful and much-needed treatments to control anxiety disorders that are aimed at enhancing and improving this pathway.

“Stress can trigger the onset of a number of neuropsychiatric conditions that are rooted in an adverse combination of genetic and environmental factors. While low stress levels are counteracted by the brain’s natural ability to adapt, severe or prolonged traumatic experiences can overwhelm the protective mechanisms of stress resilience, leading to the development of pathological conditions such as depression or anxiety. , explained Dr. Valentina Mosienko, one of the study’s lead authors, an MRC Fellow and Professor of Neuroscience at Bristol’s School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience.

“miRNAs are strategically poised to control complex neuropsychiatric conditions such as anxiety. But the molecular and cellular mechanisms they use to regulate resilience and susceptibility to stress were until now largely unknown. The miR483-5p/Pgap2 pathway that we identified in this study, whose activation exerts anxiety-reducing effects, offers a great potential for the development of anti-anxiety therapies for complex psychiatric conditions in humans”.


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