New study could help explain how childhood stress contributes to anxiety and depression

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New research could help explain why stress early in life can create vulnerabilities to mood and anxiety disorders later on.

The study, led by researchers at The Ohio State University, was presented Nov. 5 in San Diego at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting, and highlights the important role of mast cells.

“These are immune cells involved in allergic reactions that historically were largely ignored by neuroscientists, but now we’re finding in rodent models they could be responsible for some of the changes we see in neurodevelopment after a childhood trauma,” said Kathryn Lenz, the study’s senior author and an assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Study lead author Angela Saulsbery said that she’s especially interested in how this research might begin to draw molecular-level connections between adverse childhood experiences and adolescent and adult depression and anxiety.

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