Mental Illness May be Waiting for Stressed Out Teens in Adulthood

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by HealthDay.

Researchers at the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão Preto Medical School in Brazil have discovered that excessive stress during adolescence can lead to changes in the gene expression in the brain. These changes, particularly in genes related to bioenergy, may impact cell respiration, leading to behavioral issues and psychiatric disorders in adulthood.

“Like the human brain, the brain of an adolescent rat is highly plastic. This plasticity is seen at the molecular level and in terms of behavior,” says study first author Thamyris Santos-Silva, who was a doctoral candidate in pharmacology at FMRP-USP at the time of the study, in a media release. “Changes in the expression profiles of specific genes in different brain regions lead to alterations in brain cell connectivity, which spread systemically and can produce persistent alterations in adulthood that correlate with psychiatric disorders.”

The study began by analyzing behavioral responses to stress in late-adolescent rats. The animals underwent a stress protocol for 10 days during a period of intense brain plasticity, showing marked behavioral impairments, including anxiety, reduced sociability, and cognitive dysfunction.

“The analysis showed alterations to the genes of the prefrontal cortex in the stressed animals. Among the ten most affected genes, several were associated with pathways linked to oxidative stress and mitochondrial function, a key cellular component of energy production for the brain,” notes Felipe Villela Gomes, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology at FMRP-USP and the article’s last author.

The study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Source: StudyFinds

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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