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Brain Protein That May Help Understand Anxiety Disorder Better
Anxiety disorder is a complex mental problem, affecting millions across the globe. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) defines anxiety disorder as a mental condition characterized by excessive
and unrealistic worry about everyday tasks or events, or may be specific to certain objects or rituals. At
times, these worries can be so overwhelming and unnerving that a person is left with no option but to
seek help from doctors. Scientists and researchers have been constantly trying to find better and more
effective treatment options for anxiety disorder.
A brain protein, which can offer sufficient insight into mental health conditions like anxiety disorder, is
providing the necessary impetus to researchers for further studies. Various researches are being
conducted to understand the role of this protein, known as kappa opioid receptors (KORs), in releasing
neurotransmitters related to pain perception and mood.
An instant hit with drug developers
In a recent study,
published in the journal
Cell Reports in March
2016, scientists unveiled
mechanism that allows
these receptors to drive
anxiety. Hence, it is
believed that the results
could help in the
development of drugs
that can be used to treat
anxiety and addiction.
One of the endearing
qualities of KORs is their
ability to alleviate pain
without the potential risk
of addiction. This has
made the protein an instant hit with drug manufacturers. KORs inhibit the release of neurotransmitter
glutamate in that region of the brain that regulates emotions. However, the pharmaceutical benefits of
KORs still remain to be evaluated.
Mice with activated KORs showed behavioral differences
To understand the behavior of KOR, the researchers from the University of North Carolina carried out a
study on knocked out mice, which had been genetically designed to have certain genes expressed or
repressed. They aimed at understanding how activating and deactivating KORs would affect the behavior
of the mice.
The researchers then activated or deactivated the KORs of the mice before placing them in potentially
stressful situations. They observed that there were significant behavioral differences between the mice
with activated KORs and mice whose receptors were disabled.
They noticed that inactivated KORs resulted in proper release of glutamate, and the mice exhibited signs
of lower anxiety levels. On the contrary, when KORs were activated, the glutamate release linked to
“safety” was cramped down and there were visible signs of more anxiety.
“When we removed the receptor, mice spent more time in the open arm, suggesting they were less
anxious because it is the innate activity of mice to stay away from open areas,” lead researcher Dr. Thomas
L. Kash told the Medical Daily. Kash said that KORs can “shut off an anxiety-reducing pathway in the brain.”
KORs are not limited to brains of mouse; they are also present in human brains and they also work in the
The use of KORs in the field of medicine gives sufficient reasons to doctors to come up with ways to control
anxiety disorders. In fact, a plethora of pharmaceutical companies has already made inroads in developing
KOR antagonists as a treatment for anxiety and drug abuse.
Anxiety disorders can exacerbate if left untreated. But treatment is possible with early intervention. If a
loved one is suffering from anxiety disorder and you are scouting for anxiety treatment centers in
Arizona, call the Anxiety Disorder Treatment Arizona at our 24/7 helpline number 866-425-9317 for a
quick response. Our experts can guide you to one of the best anxiety disorder treatment centers in
Arizona. Connect with our members today to avail the service of any of the renowned anxiety treatment
centers in Arizona.
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