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The visible effects of depression and stress that can be seen in a person’s face, and contribute to shorter lives, can also be found in alterations in genetic activity, according to newly published research.
In a series of studies involving both C. elegans worms and human cohorts, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Scripps Research Institute have identified a series of genes that may modulate the effects of good or bad mood and response to stress on lifespan.
In particular, the research pointed to a gene known as ANK3 as playing a key role in affecting longevity. Alexander B. Niculescu III, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and medical neuroscience at the IU School of Medicine, said:
“We were looking for genes that might be at the interface between mood, stress and longevity. We have found a series of genes involved in mood disorders and stress disorders which also seem to be involved in longevity.
Our subsequent analyses of these genes found that they change in expression with age, and that people subject to significant stress and/or mood disorders, such as people who completed suicide, had a shift in expression levels of these genes that would be associated with premature aging and reduced longevity.”/.../