Nav: Home

Scientists at DGIST discovered how chronic stress causes brain damage

August 09, 2019

DGIST announced on July 2 that Professor Seong-Woon Yu's team in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences discovered that chronic stress causes autophagic death of adult hippocampal neural stem cells (NSCs). These findings are expected to open up new strategies for combatting stress-associated neural diseases.

Chronic stress is infamous for its association with various mental diseases such as depression and schizophrenia that have become very serious social problems. Stress can even raise the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease. However, the exact mechanisms underlying damages of brain functions have not been well known yet. While the previous animal studies found that generation of new neurons is much less in stressed mice, apoptosis1, a well-known cell suicide pathway was not found in NSCs, leading to a conclusion that cell death is not related with loss of NSCs during stress. Thus, the cause of decline in adult neurogenesis2, which is generation of new neural cells in the adult brain, specially in hippocampus, has remained .

Professor Yu's team discovered for the first time that chronic stress causes autophagic death of adult hippocampal NSCs. Autophagy (self-eating in Greek) is a cellular process to protect cells from unfavorable conditions through digestion and recycling of inner cell materials, thereby cells can 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. Autophagic cell death is a form of cell death distinguished from apoptosis by the causative role of autophagy for cell demise. Using the NSCs derived from rodents and genetically-modified mice, the research team discovered that the death of hippocampal NSCs is prevented and normal brain functions are maintained without stress symptoms when Atg7, one of the major autophagic genes, is deleted.

The research team also further examined the mechanism controlling the autophagy induction of NSCs in more depth, proving that SGK3 (serum/glucocorticoid regulated kinase3) geneis the trigger for autophagy initiation. Therefore, when SGK3 gene is removed, hippocampal NSCs do not undergo cell death and are spared from stress.

Professor Yu in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences said that "It is clear from our study that cognitive defects and mood disorders brought about by stress is through autophagic death of adult hippocampal NSCs. With continuous research, we'll be able to take a step further toward the development of effective treatment of psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. Furthermore, stress-related neurodegenerative diseases including dementia could be also benefited from our study. We hope to be able to develop much faster and more effective mental disease treatments through joint research with the Chinese National Compound Library to develop SGK3 inhibitor together."
-end-
This research achievement was published in the journal 'Autophagy' on June 24 and was participated by Seonghee Jung in the M.S.-Ph.D. Integrated Program in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at DGIST as the first author. It was conducted through the Brain Research Program and Mid-level Researcher Support Program by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korean National Research Foundation, as well as DGIST Convergence Research Project on Neuroplasticity Rehabilitation Mechanism and Technique.

  1. Apoptosis: A physiological suicide mechanism needed to control the number of cells and for normal rotation of tissues
  2. Adult neurogenesis: Generated from the hippocampal neural stem cells that are responsible for memory, learning, and emotional control is deeply related to degenerative brain diseases and neurodevelopmental disorder.


DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

Related Science Articles:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.
Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.
Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.
World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.
PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.
More Science News and Science Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.