They discover that a drug against hypertension can 'cure' childhood traumas

By 04/10/2023 Portal

Several studies have shown that traumas are hereditary: a bad experience can be suffered by a person and their descendants. Now, a new study has discovered that these situations, if very extreme, can remain in the genes for up to three generations, causing an alteration in neurological functioning in mice, which is associated with higher levels of panic and anxiety. But the authors have not stopped there: they have found a drug, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that is inhaled and that can reverse these effects. Specifically, it is amiloride, a diuretic medication that is administered in the treatment of hypertension and congestive heart failure. The conclusions of the study have just been published in the journal 'Science Advances'. Despite having been tested only in mice, the researchers say they could be applied to experimental treatments in humans who "suffer from panic disorders and who may have faced adversity at an early age." The goal of the study was to understand how traumas become "biological memories" in the brain. Previous experiments show that mice separated from their mothers at a young age and raised by multiple 'foster parents' had enhanced expression of ASIC1, a gene that helps detect pH changes in nervous system processes. The experiment consisted of studying both mice that were separated from their mothers early and two subsequent generations exposing them to said drug. First, they separated the first generation of mice from their mothers, pairing them with new "foster" mothers every 24 hours for four days within the first week of life. They then returned the young mice to normal breeding and allowed the separated mice to mate for two more generations. The air enriched with the drug caused the mice exposed to the traumatic separation situation and their progeny to oxygenate better. Molecular analyzes revealed that expression of ASIC1, ASIC2, and ASIC3 was enhanced in lineages exposed to childhood trauma, particularly in the medulla oblongata and periaqueductal gray matter, brain regions responsible for sensory and pain processes. In fact, just one dose reversed neural problems in subsequent generations. "These are very novel results, but they are also preliminary and must be confirmed and extended by other laboratories, including experiments on people," says Raül Andero Galí, psychologist and ICREA Research professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, for the SMC. Andero Galí criticizes that this work does not study how this intergenerational transmission of the drug's effect may be happening, although he describes the results as "very novel." MORE INFORMATION news No Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2023 for the discoverers of quantum dots, which illuminate cancer surgery from televisions news No Nobel Prize in Physics 2023 for the light tools that allow us to see in real time what happens inside the atoms Ángel Barco, director of the Institute of Neurosciences, a joint center of the Miguel Hernández University of Elche (UMH) and the CSIC, states along the same lines, who misses the "explanation of the mechanism that may underlie this transgenerational transmission."