A gene activated by stress adjusts energy output and synapse number of prefrontal cortex neurons, finds a study of male mice and rats published in JNeurosci. The results were validated in brain tissue of deceased patients with Alzheimer's disease and depression, two disorders known to be aggravated by stress.
Margarita Arango-Lievano, Freddy Jeanneteau and colleagues found that the gene NR4A1 is involved in regulating mitochondria, the cellular powerhouse, of PFC neurons in response to stress. This may help conserve the cells' energy in the context of immediate stress when demand is high. However, excessive activity of this gene during chronic stress may interfere with the normal functioning of circuits between the PFC and the rest of the brain through its impact on connectivity of individual cells. The researchers show that altering the expression of NR4A1 in animals exposed to chronic stressors protects PFC cells from synaptic loss. This gene may therefore represent a target to explore in future studies of stress-related disorders.
Article: The stress-induced transcription factor NR4A1 adjusts mitochondrial function and synapse number in prefrontal cortex
JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.
About The Society for Neuroscience
The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.