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Do the beneficial effects of exercise involve miRNA-mediated regulation of gene expression?

Emerging evidence suggests that microRNAs (miRNAs) contribute to the pathogenesis of stress-related disorders, including depression and anxiety. 

Aims

Using next-generation RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq), we will investigate the effects of exercise and chronic stress on hippocampal miRNAs and extend our analyses to ALL small non-coding RNAs (and their mRNA targets), and other brain regions relevant to central stress response, such as the hypothalamus.

However, the molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. Similarly, the exact mechanism by which exercise exerts its beneficial effects on mood and cognition remain unclear. In regard to gene-environment interactions, a key aspect of psychiatric disorders, our serotonin transporter (5-HTT) mutant mice provide invaluable tools.

Along with generating a uniquely large resource of data in interconnected brain regions implicated in depression/anxiety and environmental influences, this project will deliver cellular mechanisms and molecular mediators implicated in affective and cognitive regulation. Ultimately, our project will identify new targets for future therapies relevant to depression and anxiety disorders.

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