Researchers at Duke University Medical Centre have discovered a mechanism that could explain why stress causes DNA damage.
“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 senior author Robert J. Lefkowitz, M.D., James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at Duke University Medical Centre.
“This could give us a plausible explanation of how chronic stress may lead to a variety of human conditions and disorders, which range from merely cosmetic, like greying hair, to life-threatening disorders like malignancies,” Lefkowitz said.
P53 is a tumour suppressor protein and is considered a “guardian of the genome” – one that prevents genomic abnormalities.
“The study showed that chronic stress leads to prolonged lowering of p53 levels,” said Makoto Hara, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Lefkowitz laboratory. “We hypothesize that this is the reason for the chromosomal irregularities we found in chronically stressed mice.”