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Mystery gene reveals new mechanism for anxiety disorders

• by University of Chicago Medical Center
 By testing the controversial role of a gene called Glo1 in anxiety, scientists uncovered a new inhibitory factor in the brain: the metabolic by-product methylglyoxal. The system offers a tantalizing new target for drugs designed to treat conditions such as anxiety disorder, epilepsy, and .

The study, published in the , found that animals with multiple copies of the Glo1 gene were more likely to exhibit anxiety-like behavior in . Further experiments showed that Glo1 increased anxiety-like behavior by lowering levels of methylglyoxal (MG). Conversely, inhibiting Glo1 or raising MG levels reduced anxiety behaviors.

"Animals transgenic for Glo1 had different levels of anxiety-like behavior, and more copies made them more anxious," said Abraham Palmer, PhD, assistant professor of at the University of Chicago Medicine and senior author of the study. "We showed that Glo1 was causally related to anxiety-like behavior, rather than merely correlated."

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