The visible impacts of depression and stress that can be seen in a person’s face — and contribute to shorter lives — can also be found in alterations in genetic activity, according to newly published research.
In a series of animal and human studies, researchers from the Indiana University have identified a series of genes that may modulate the effects of good or bad mood and response to stress on lifespan.
In particular, the research pointed to a gene known as ANK3 as playing a key role in affecting longevity.
The research is published in Molecular Psychiatry, the top ranked journal in the field of psychiatry.
The research began with studies in C. elegans, a worm widely used in life sciences research.
An earlier study found that exposing C. elegans to the antidepressant mianserin, which is used to treat mood and stress disorders, extended the animal’s lifespan.
In the current study, the researchers methodically conducted a series of analyses to discover, prioritize, validate, and understand the genes involved in the process.
The analyses found that the genes change in expression with age.
In addition, people subject to significant stress and/or mood disorders, such as people who committed suicide, had a shift in expression levels of these genes that would be associated with premature aging and reduced longevity.
The authors suggest that these studies uncover ANK3 and other genes as biological links between mood, stress and lifespan,
They may be biomarkers for biological age as well as targets for personalized preventive or therapeutic interventions.
Citation: Rangaraju S, et al. (2016). Mood, stress and longevity: convergence on ANK3. Molecular Psychiatry, 21: 1037-1049. DOI:10.1038/mp.2016.65.
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