Chilled-out mice hold key to new treatments for psychological disorders

Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry,; the Hulk’s alter ego Bruce Banner famously said. Now researchers have made a discovery that might one day have implications for anyone considering Bruce as a potential house guest. The researchers have identified a brain receptor that malfunctions in overly hostile mice — a receptor that also exists in humans – and found a way to shut it down, offering the potential for the development of treatments for severe aggression.

The breakthrough by Marco Bortolato and Jean Shih from the University of Southern California’s (USC) School of Pharmacy, working with colleagues in Italy, builds on previous work by Bortolato and Shih, in which they identified a specific gene disposition resulting in low levels of the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAO A). They found that humans and mice with this congenital deficiency of the enzyme respond to stress with violent outbursts.

The same type of mutation that we study in mice is associated with criminal, very violent behavior in humans, Bortolato said. But we really didn’t understand why that it is — via

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