The Neurobiology of Resilience

Rather than focusing only on the bad effects of stress, should researchers also look for ways to induce resilience to treat depression and anxiety disorders? Based on recent research, Eric Nestler, Ph.D., a Dana Alliance member and chair of neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, ponders this question in our recent briefing paper, “The Neurobiology of Resilience.”

The paper looks at both Nestler’s resilience research and that of his colleague Ming-Hu Han, Ph.D., an assistant professor in pharmacology and systems therapeutics at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School, who recently published a paper on global gene expression in resilient versus susceptible mice.

For every 100 genes that changed, either up or down, in susceptible mice, 300 genes changed in resilient mice, Han says.

“This was a very interesting finding because it means that resilient animals are not actually insensitive to stress, but rather are actively using more genes during stress,” says Han.

Though the scientists agree that years of research lie ahead of potential treatments, Han’s finding has sparked optimism among the neuroscience community. NIMH Director and Dana Alliance member, Tom Insel, M.D., said in a statement:

As we get to the bottom of a mystery that has perplexed the field for more than a decade, the story takes an unexpected twist that may hold clues to future antidepressants that would act through this counterintuitive resilience mechanism.

Read more about the current state and future of resilience research in our briefing paper.

–Ann L. Whitman

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