Neural strategy to combat stress
Researchers in the
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute
of Science and Technology) have discovered that chronic stress causes ‘autophagic’
death of adult hippocampal neural stem cells (NSCs). These findings are
expected to open up new strategies for combating stress-associated neural
Autophagy (self-eating in Greek) is a cellular process to protect cells from unfavourable conditions through digestion and recycling of inner cell materials, which enables cells to remove toxic or old intracellular components and get nutrients and metabolites for survival. However, autophagy can turn into self-destruction process under certain conditions, leading to autophagic cell death.
The death of hippocampal NSCs is prevented when
Atg7, one of the major autophagic genes, is deleted. The researchers also found
that SGK3 (serum/glucocorticoid regulated kinase3) gene is the trigger for
autophagy initiation. Therefore, when SGK3 gene is removed, hippocampal NSCs do
not undergo cell death and are spared from stress.