Immune from Chronic Stress? Limit Inflammatory Signaling to Specific Brain Circuits

Chronic stress is associated with the pathogenesis of psychological disorders such as depression. A study is the first to identify the role of a neuronal receptor that straddles the intersection between social stress, inflammation, and anxiety in rodent models of stress. Findings suggest the possibility of developing better medications to treat the consequences of chronic stress by limiting inflammatory signaling not just generally, which may not be beneficial in the long run, but to specific brain circuits.

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Untangling the Effects of Past Adversity and Alcohol Use Disorder on Acute Stress Responses

The hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis is the body’s key stress response system. By driving production of the stress hormone cortisol, and then ensuring a return to baseline levels, the HPA axis regulates our reaction to stressful events. Chronic alcohol use, however, can lead to persistently elevated cortisol, reducing the body’s capacity to respond appropriately to stress. Among people in treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the blunted stress response predicts risk of relapse and a return to drinking. Longer-term life stress, including childhood adversity, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic stress, can also dampen HPA axis function, complicating interpretation of the alterations evident in people with AUD. However, it is not known how stress and trauma intereact with AUD to affect HPA-axis reactivity. A new report in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research by researchers from the universities of Texas, Florida, and Colorado addresses this issue, u

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Chronic Stress Can Impact Response to Radiation Therapy for Cancer, Roswell Park Study Suggests

Radiation is one of the oldest and most common therapies for cancer, and typically is delivered locally, or to specific targeted sites in the body. While it has long been thought that locally-delivered radiation therapy typically does not help to shrink tumors outside the field of irradiation, new preclinical research from a team at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center suggests a strategy for significantly increasing both the local and distant, or “abscopal,” effects of radiation. Results of the study, which was led by Elizabeth Repasky, PhD, have been newly published in Nature Communications.

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