A new treatment for post traumatic stress disorder tested in mice shows that injecting adiponectin, which is secreted by fat cells called adipocytes - was found to decrease fear.
People who have low levels of a fat hormone might be more prone to developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms if they are exposed to a traumatic event.
The experimental model, mice were trained to associate a setting, such as a box, with a mild unpleasant stimulus. As expected, they showed a fear response when re-exposed to the setting.
Injecting adiponectin prior to this training prompted faster learning to overcome fear, the measurements showed.
"Once the threat is no longer there, the fear should go away, but in PTSD it keeps flashing back," said study senior author Xin-Yun Lu, professor at School of Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Centre in the US.
"In the PTSD animal model, the circulating adiponectin is low, data suggest. If the genes encoding adiponectin and its receptor are disrupted, the mice extinguish fear responses much slower. If adiponectin levels are elevated in the brain, the mice get extinction faster," Lu noted.
Adiponectin impairment is implicated in metabolic diseases such as obesity and Type-2 diabetes.
The new research, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, showed the hormone has a role beyond its metabolic control, Lu said.
"It is interesting that this hormone promotes fear extinction," Lu said.
"Increasing adiponectin levels or activating its specific receptors might facilitate extinction-based exposure treatments for PTSD and other trauma- and stress-related disorders," she noted.