News from CEXS-UPF
A study just published in the advanced online edition of the journal Neuropsychopharmacology has identified a protein, hypocretin/orexin-1, that influences the establishment of aversive memory. The system of hypocretins/orexins is involved in the regulation of emotional states, for example elevated levels of this substance are found in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients diagnosed with anxiety panic. The authors of the study started from the assumption that this protein might be involved in the disappearance or consolidation, depending on the case, of aversive memory or memory of unpleasant and ungratifying experiences.
In their experiment in a mouse model, the researchers have shown that, indeed, blocking the action of the hypocretin/orexin-1 receptor facilitates the disappearance of this type of memory, which means that a good therapeutic target has been identified for the treatment of diseases that occur with an inappropriate retention of unpleasant experiences in the memory, such as fear, post-traumatic stress or even certain types of phobias.
This study is part of the doctoral research conducted by África Flores, first author of the article and member of the Neuropharmacology Laboratory directed by Rafael Maldonado at the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (CEXS) at UPF. The work was done in conjunction with Victoria Valls-Comamala, Rocio Saravia and Fernando Berrendero, the latter as principal investigator of the study, all members of the Neuropharmacology Laboratory. Also involved was Giulia Costa, a researcher at the University of Cagliari (Italy).
África Flores, Victoria Valls-Comamala, Giulia Costa, Rocio Saravia, Rafael Maldonado and Fernando Berrendero (2014), "The hypocretin /orexin system mediates the extinction of fear memories", Neuropsychopharmacology.