Biotech Updates

Scientists Explain How Chronic Stress Causes DNA Damage

August 26, 2011

Previous studies have revealed that chronic stress is related to chromosome damage. Scientists at Duke University Medical Center discovered a mechanism that helps elucidate the effect of stress on DNA damage. Results of the study were published in the August 21, 2011 issue of Nature.

"We believe this paper is the first to propose a specific mechanism through which a hallmark of chronic stress, elevated adrenaline, could eventually cause DNA damage that is detectable," said lead author Robert J. Lefkowitz.

In the study, they infused mice with adrenaline-like compound that works through a beta adrenergic receptor that Lefkowitz has investigated for several years. They discovered that this representation of chronic stress turned on specific biological pathways that led to DNA damage. They also found out that chronic stress leads to decrease in the amount of tumor suppressor protein which prevents genomic abnormalities. The findings helped them explain why chronic stress may lead to different human conditions and disorders such as graying of hair and malignancies.