Protein that Turns off Stress Identified

LONDON – How does the body recover from responding to shock or acute stress? This question is at the heart of a research which has identified a protein family central to the brain’s stress coping mechanism.

The study, based on mice, was conducted by Alon Chen, neurobiologist at the Weizmann Institute of Sciences in Israel.

The response to stress begins in the brain, and Chen concentrates on a family of proteins that play a prominent role in regulating this mechanism, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.

One protein in the family, CRF, is known to initiate a chain of events that occurs when we cope with pressure, and scientists have hypothesized that other members of the family are involved in shutting down that chain, according to a Weizmann statement.

Chen and his team have now, for the first time, provided sound evidence that three family members – known as urocortin 1, 2 and 3 – are responsible for turning off the stress response.

“Our findings imply that the urocortin system plays a central role in regulating stress responses, and this may have implications for such diseases as anxiety disorders, depression and anorexia,” Chen said.