Early life adversity and high levels of FKBP5 protein amplify anxiety-like behavior

Researchers continue to dig for molecular clues to better understand how gene-environment interactions influence neuropsychiatric disease risk and resilience. An increasing number of studies point to a strong association between the FKBP5 gene and increased susceptibility to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health disorders.

Adding to the growing evidence, a new preclinical study by University of South Florida neuroscientists finds that anxiety-like behavior increases when early life adversity combines with high levels of FKBP5 – a protein capable of modifying hormonal stress response. Moreover, the researchers demonstrate this genetic-early life stress interaction amplifies anxiety by selectively altering signaling of the enzyme AKT in the dorsal hippocampus, a portion of the brain primarily responsible for cognitive functions like learning and memory.

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