• As described in Current Biology, the discovery began with an examination of the DNA of over 11,000 people, many of whom had a history of stress-related depression. Researchers noticed that stress-related depression correlated with an increase in the amount of the cell’s second genome: mitochondrial DNA.
  • Taking this one step further, the scientists then tested the molecular changes in mice that were subject to four weeks of stress. They found not only that the mice exhibited the expected increase in mitochondrial DNA, but also that their telomeres had reduced in length.
  • The erosion of telomeres in these stressed mice indicates that stress can decrease one’s life expectancy. But it’s not all doom and gloom, as the researchers also discovered that the changes in both telomere-length and the increase in mitochondrial DNA are largely reversible. After the mice were free from stress, their DNA also recovered.

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