Depression leaves lasting mark on DNA | Science News

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Depression leaves lasting mark on DNA

Stress can damage cells at the molecular level, study finds

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12:00pm, April 23, 2015

Depression changes people down to their DNA, a new study suggests.

People with depression have more mitochondrial DNA and shorter telomeres than nondepressed people do, an international team of researchers reports online April 23 in Current Biology.

Mitochondria are organelles that produce energy for cells. Mitochondria seem to become inefficient under stress, the team found, so more mitochondria may be needed to produce enough energy. Telomeres are the DNA endcaps on chromosomes that prevent the genetic material from unraveling. Short telomeres are associated with shorter life spans. The altered DNA may reflect metabolic changes associated with depression, the researchers say.

Experiments with mice showed that these DNA changes are brought on by stress or by stress hormones. Four weeks after scientists stopped stressing the mice, their mitochondrial and telomere DNA had

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