Research indicates that stress that affects your entire body and mind can also arise at the cellular level after exposure to pollution, tobacco smoke, bacterial toxins, possibly causing cellular diseases.
Researchers from Dr.Klaus Hansen's group at BRIC, University of Copenhagen, have just shown that external factors can stress our cells through the control of our genes.
"We found that stress-activating factors can control our genes by turning on certain genes that were supposed to be silenced. It is very important that some genes are on and others are off in order to ensure normal foetal development and correct function of our cells later in life" said Klaus Hansen.
Simmi Gehani, a student in the Hansen group, added that even subtle changes in gene activation can be disastrous during foetal development as establishment of correct cellular identity can be disturbed in our cells. But altered gene activity can also have consequences in the adult body.
Their study results showed that protective protein complexes are lost and selected genes turned on when cells are exposed to external stress factors, which means that without damaging our genetic code external stress factors can control the activity of our genes.
"The consequence is that genes that should be turned off are now active and this may disturb cellular development, identity and growth," said Gehani.
The results are published today in the renowned international journal Molecular Cell.