Discovery of which brain cells cause anxiety disorders could lead to new approach to treatment

불안장애 새 발병 원인 규명 치료제 개발 단초

Anxiety disorders can ruin a person's quality of life, but because the exact source of the symptoms had been unknown, they been difficult to treat.
A local research team has discovered the specific brain cells that control anxiety, opening the doors to new anxiety treatments.
Lee Eun-jin reports.

Various treatments for anxiety disorders are tested on laboratory mice.
This is a cross maze that's 30 centimeters high, and just 5 centimeters wide.
Put in this tight space, the lab mouse feels anxious, tenses up and doesn't move.
This time, the mouse has a fiber-optic attached to its head that shines a blue light.
After few minutes, the mouse starts moving around.

The blue light stimulates certain brain cells, which helps the mouse overcome the extreme anxiety.
Researchers planted part of a thin optical cable into the skull of the mouse which allowed the blue light to hit its brain directly. and the light stimulated the specific brain cells related to anxiety.

Until now, studies on anxiety disorders have been focused on the nerve cells in the brain, but researchers have found new evidence in a different kind of brain cell called astrocytes star-shaped glial cells in the brain and spinal cord.

"When light stimulates the astrocyte in the hippocampus, it increases the density of ATP in the hippocampus. This activates other nerve cells nearby, which lessens anxiety in the mouse."

Some 30 percent of adults may experience an anxiety disorder at some point, but there isn't a clear-cut treatment yet.
By identifying a new cause of anxiety, this latest research could provide a new lead for the development of treatments.

"Our research is significant in that we've discovered that new brain cells control anxiety. Astrocytes in the hippocampus area can control surrounding nerve cells, that in turn help control anxiety."

This latest discovery gives hope for those who have experienced anxiety disorders.
The research has been published in the international scientific journal "Nature Communications".
Lee Eunjin, Arirang News.

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