Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Chronic Stress Heightens Vulnerability to Diet-Related Metabolic Risk

Published: Friday, May 02, 2014
Last Updated: Friday, May 02, 2014
Bookmark and Share
UCSF researcher demonstrate that highly stressed people who eat a lot of high-fat, high-sugar food are more prone to health risks than low-stress people who eat the same.

“Chronic stress can play an important role in influencing biology, and it’s critical to understand the exact pathways through which it works.” said Kirstin Aschbacher, PhD, an assistant professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and lead author.

“Many people think a calorie is a calorie, but this study suggests that two women who eat the same thing could have different metabolic responses based on their level of stress," Aschbacher said. "There appears to be a stress pathway that works through diet – for example, it could be similar to what we see in animals, where fat cells grow faster in response to junk food when the body is chronically stressed.”

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of abnormalities – increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels – that occur together, increasing a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. 

While this stress-junk food pathway has been well mapped out with rodents and primates, this study is the first to suggest the same pathways may be at work in chronically stressed humans, according to the researchers.

“We can see this relationship exists by simply measuring stress and dietary intake, and looking inside at metabolic health,” said senior author Elissa Epel, PhD. “Diet appears to be a critical variable that can either amplify or protect against the metabolic effects of stress, but we still don't know the details of how much it takes. It will be helpful to see what happens in our next study, when we have high stress people eat a high sugar diet for a couple weeks.” 

Examining a Stress-Related Biomarker in Women
The study, published online in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, looked at a group of 61 disease-free women; 33 were chronically stressed women caring for a spouse or parent with dementia, and 28 were women with low stress.

Over the course of a year, the women reported their consumption of high sugar, high fat foods.

The researchers evaluated key biological markers associated with elevated metabolic risk. They measured participants’ waistlines and their fat distribution, using ultrasound scans to assess deep abdominal fat deposits. They tested participants’ insulin resistance, one of the core drivers of obesity and diabetes.

They also used a blood test to measure stress hormones and oxidative damage to lipids and cell RNA, a marker that has predicted higher rates of death from diabetes. Oxidative damage of the genome is also an important outcome because it is one factor that can contribute to faster cellular aging.

The Role of Chronic Stress in Disease Processes
Based on what is known from animal studies, stress triggers greater peripheral NPY which, in combination with junk food, creates larger abdominal fat cells, and these cells may be more prone to metabolic dysregulation.

“The medical community is starting to appreciate how important chronic stress is in promoting and worsening early disease processes,” said Aschbacher. “But there are no guidelines for ‘treating’ chronic stress.  We need treatment studies to understand whether increasing stress resilience could reduce the metabolic syndrome, obesity or diabetes.”

The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Marchionne Foundation and The Institute for Integrative Health.

Additional contributors to the study are Sarah Kornfeld, MA, Alliant International University; Martin Picard, PhD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Eli Puterman, PhD, Department of Psychiatry at UCSF; Peter Havel, DVM, PhD, University of California, Davis; Kimber Stanhope, PhD, University of California, Davis; and Robert Lustig, MD, Department of Pediatrics at UCSF.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Single-Cell Analysis Holds Promise for Stem Cell and Cancer Research
UCSF researchers use microfluidic technology to probe human brain development.
Friday, August 08, 2014
Longer Telomeres Linked to Risk of Brain Cancer
Findings can be viewed as a double-edged sword, gene variants may promote overall health while increasing risk of gliomas.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Scientific News
RNAi Screening Trends
Understand current trends and learn which application areas are expected to gain in popularity over the next few years.
The Genetic Roots of Adolescent Scoliosis
Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences in collaboration with Keio University in Japan have discovered a gene that is linked to susceptibility of Scoliosis.
A Gene-Sequence Swap Using CRISPR to Cure Haemophilia
For the first time chromosomal defects responsible for hemophilia have been corrected in patient-specific iPSCs using CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases
Experimental MERS Vaccine Shows Promise in Animal Studies
A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines.
New Tool Uses 'Drug Spillover' to Match Cancer Patients with Treatments
Researchers have developed a new tool that improves the ability to match drugs to disease: the Kinase Addiction Ranker (KAR) predicts what genetics are truly driving the cancer in any population of cells and chooses the best "kinase inhibitor" to silence these dangerous genetic causes of disease.
Understanding the Molecular Origin of Epigenetic Markers
Researchers at IRB Barcelona discover the molecular mechanism that determines how epigenetic markers influence gene expression.
HIV Susceptibility Linked to Little-Understood Immune Cell Class
High levels of diversity among immune cells called natural killer cells may strongly predispose people to infection by HIV, and may be driven by prior viral exposures, according to a new study.
Diagnostic Test Developed for Enterovirus D68
researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a diagnostic test to quickly detect enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a respiratory virus that caused unusually severe illness in children last year.
How a Kernel Got Naked and Corn Became King
Ten thousand years ago, a golden grain got naked, brought people together and grew to become one of the top agricultural commodities on the planet.
Sweet Revenge Against Superbugs
A special type of synthetic sugar could be the latest weapon in the fight against superbugs.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!