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Reversing stress-related anxiety

Dec. 20, 2019, 11:00 AM

by Allison Whitten

Prolonged stress can lead to a myriad of mental and physical health issues. Up to one quarter of people suffering from chronic stress also exhibit comorbid anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders.

In a new study published in the journal Neurobiology of Stress, Sachin Patel, MD, PhD, postdoctoral fellow Amanda Morgan, PhD, and colleagues investigated the potential to treat anxiety brought on by chronic stress by inhibiting the activity of COX-2, an enzyme that increases production of lipids involved in inflammatory responses.

They found that repeated administration of the COX-2 inhibitor lumiracoxib (LMX) reversed anxiety-like behavior in a mouse model of chronic stress. Crucially, they also identified the mechanism underlying the decrease in anxiety-like behavior. Repeated doses of LMX normalized excess excitatory neural currents in the anterior basolateral amygdala — a brain region involved in processing stress.

The study adds an important contribution to growing evidence that inhibiting COX-2 could provide a novel therapeutic approach for stress-related psychiatric disorders.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants MH065215, MH100096) and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

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