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Environmental Changes can Reduce Stress, Study

Environmental Changes can Reduce Stress, Study

(epharmanews) – The negative effects of stress have always been reported and recorded. However, a new animal study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to model stress reduction and its biological effects in rodents as they are placed in various caging environments.

A team of international researchers from the United States, Germany, France and Austria conducted a study on 40 male rodents for 5 months. The rodents were tested in four environments that differ in space, comfort, and the ability of rodents to exercise.

Lead author Blake Gurfein, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow with the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine explained: “Our intention was to develop a mouse model that we can use reproducibly to model the biological changes that occur when moving from a state of stress to a state of less stress, or stress reduction”

“We wanted to explore neuroendocrine changes. What happens when you reduce stress hormone levels? What happens when you reduce autonomic nervous system activity? That was the basis of our hypothesis.” He said.

The “control” group in the study was placed in standard cages; the “calm” group was placed in large cages with nesting material and polycarbonate tube for enhanced comfort; the “control exercise” group was placed in standard cages with a running wheel for exercise; and the “calm exercise” group was placed in large, comfortable cages with a running wheel.

The finding, published in Molecular Medicine, found that the “calm” group showed a rapid reduction in the production of stress hormones and an increased body mass – which is an indication of robust health and wellness in rodent studies.

Researchers were surprised how quickly they saw significant biological changes. Rodents in the “calm” and “calm exercise” groups gained body mass and reduced production of stress hormones within one week.

“One of the variables in our study is time, and we were thinking that it would be more of a gradual change,” Gurfein said. “The effects of the change in environment became evident pretty quickly.”

The team studied male mice, so do not know if female mice would react to the different environments in a similar way. Researchers hope to expand on this study and see if their results have similar outcomes in human studies.

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Prepared by: Abdullatief Janat

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