That can lead to physical and emotional stress disorders, is known. But if even a short-term stress can affect the activity of our genes, researchers wanted to find out.
In previous studies could already be shown that incriminating experiences and psychological trauma at an early age can eventually lead to an altered DNA methylation.
Now scientists want to find out together whether acute stress, and not only short-term stress affects on the activity of our genes.
Which genes of our genetic material can be read depends on so-called epigenetic information. These include methyl groups that attach themselves to certain sections of the DNA and prevent a gene read, so it can take effect. The scientists studied two DNA segments that are important for biological stress regulation: the gene for the oxytocin receptor and for the nerve growth factor BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor).
Known as the “trust hormone” Oxytocin causes a person feels safe and secure. BDNF is mainly responsible for the development and networking of brain cells.
Stress prevents production of oxytocin.
The researchers studied 76 individuals to a stress test by participating this to a fictitious interview and solve arithmetic problems were under observation. For the analysis it took before the test subjects as well as 10 and 90 minutes after the test blood from. It was found that the stress situation has no effect on methylation of the BDNF gene. However, in a section of the gene for the oxytocin receptor methylation already increased in the first ten minutes after the test. This means that the cells to take up less oxytocin at this time.
Therefore the study showed that short-term stress yourself on the activity of our genes impact. This could also be useful for the exploration of certain diseases of importance. “Epigenetic changes are probably an important link between stress and chronic diseases,” said one of the authors of the study. He hopes to identify complex epigenetic stress patterns in the future and thereby find clues for new treatment and prevention approaches can.