CRG researchers find gene responsible for susceptibility to panic disorder

CRG researchers find gene responsible for susceptibility to panic disorder

News from CRG

Five out of every 100 people in Spain suffer from panic disorder, one of the diseases included within the anxiety disorders, and they experience frequent and sudden attacks of fear that may influence their everyday lives, sometimes even rendering them incapable of things like going to the shops, driving the car or holding down a job.

It was known that this disease had a neurobiological and genetic basis and for some time the search had been on to discover which genes were involved in its development, with certain genes being implicated without their physiopathological contribution being understood. Now, for the first time, researchers from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) have revealed that the gene NTRK3, responsible for encoding a protein essential for the formation of the brain, the survival of neurones and establishing connections between them, is a factor in genetic susceptibility to panic disorder.

"We have observed that deregulation of NTRK3 produces changes in brain development that lead to malfunctions in the fear-related memory system", explains Mara Dierssen, head of the Cellular and Systems Neurobiology group at the CRG. “In particular, this system is more efficient at processessing information to do with fear, the thing that makes a person overestimate the risk in a situation and therefore feel more frightened and, also, that stores that information in a more lasting and consistent manner".

More information:
CRG News

Monica Santos, Davide D’Amico, Ornella Spadoni, Alejandro Amador-Arjona, Oliver Stork and Mara Dierssen. Hippocampal Hyperexcitability Underlies Enhanced Fear Memories in TgNTRK3, a Panic Disorder Mouse Model. Neurobiology of Disease | The Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2161-13.2013