Reducing effects of traumatic events
Reducing fear and stress following a traumatic event could be as simple as providing a protein synthesis blocker to the brain, report a team of researchers from McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, McGill University, and Massachusetts General Hospital in a paper published in the March 4 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Published: 4 March 2013
“The animals showed stereotypical signs of fear after the initial exposure to the auditory stimulus,” explained Nader, a co-author on the paper. “Following the administration of rapamycin, we show a significant decrease in fear, but not a complete elimination. We were surprised to note that activity between cells was significantly affected by postsynaptic mechanisms.”
The findings of this study, which was funded by a grant from the United States Department of Defense spearheaded by Roger Pitman, suggest that different plasticity rules within cells in the brain are recruited during the formation of the original fear memory and after fear memory was reactivated.
“Although further work at the molecular level needs to be completed, we are hopeful that this unexpected discovery is the foundation needed to identify ways in which we can better treat anxiety disorders in which fear condition plays a role, such as post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Bolshakov.
Additional authors on this study include McLean Hospital’s Yan Li, PhD, Edward Meloni, PhD, William Carlezon, PhD, and Mohammed Milad and Roger Pitman, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital.
McLean Hospital is the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a member of Partners HealthCare. For more information about McLean, visit www.mclean.harvard.edu or follow the hospital on Twitter@McLeanHospital.
About McGill University
Founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, McGill is a leading Canadian post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 11 professional schools, 300 programs of study and some 38,000 students, including 8,800 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, with more than 7,700 international students making up 20 per cent of the student body. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English, including more than 6,700 with French as their first language.