Keep Calm! Scientists Discovered a New Mechanism of Coping with Stress

A team of SUSU scientists, jointly with experts from the Ural Division of the Russian Academy of Sciences and immunologists from China (Huazhong University of Science and Technology), have presented a new understanding of the role of the JAK-STAT intracellular signalling system, which regulates such processes as the growth, development, division and destruction of cells in body, in case of stress disorders. Researchers have proposed to expand the range of means treating the signalling system and disorders caused by stress. 

Signalling pathways in cells are a consecutive strictly determined interaction between body molecules, which transfer information from one cell to another. The JAK-STAT signalling pathway is an important second messenger cascade for many of the cytokines, growth factors and hormones, thus regulating the physiological and pathological processes. 

“The main components of the JAK-STAT pathway include cellular receptors, JAK protein and STAT protein – hence the name of the pathway. Disturbance in the pathway of signal transfer in the JAK-STAT pathway can lead to serious disorders, including to the development of immunodeficiency disorders and malignant tumours,” says Doctor of Sciences (Biology), Senior Research Fellow of the Research Laboratory for System Pathology and Advanced Medicinal Products Mariia Komelkova.

Disorders of intracellular signalling system, among other things, may be caused by hyperactivity of certain proteins. To correct these disorders, inhibitors (synthetic substances slowing down the protein activity) are used, which alleviate the symptoms of disorders.

“Today, the functions of the JAK-STAT system are being actively studied with regards to pathologies, which normally are not the typical targets for this class of substances. The JAK-STAT inhibitors are commonly studied as applied to autoimmune disorders. However, there is a potential for significant expansion of the nosology range towards stress-induced pathologies, such as depression and PTSD. Though this is not a simple process and it requires not only the selection of new inhibitors, but also the theoretical substantiation,” shares Doctor of Sciences (Biology) Aleksei Sarapultsev, Director of the SUSU China-Russia Research and Education Centre for System Pathology.

Based on thorough analysis of modern literature, the scientists have proposed a hypothesis on what other disorders may be caused by disturbances in this system. Thus, the researchers have discovered a significant role of JAK-STAT in disorders related to stress and functioning of the central nervous system in normal and pathological states, what has considerably broadened the understanding of the work of signalling system within the frameworks of traditional immunology and pathophysiology. The scientists feel confident that the use of JAK and STAT proteins as pharmacological targets in the treatment of a whole number of disorders (not amenable to treatment or difficult to treat, such as depression and PTSD) can lead to favourable changes in the disease histories.

South Ural State University is a university of transformations, where innovative research is conducted in most of the priority fields of science and technology development. In accordance with the strategy of scientific and technological development of the Russian Federation, the university is focused on the development of big scientific interdisciplinary projects in the field of digital industry, materials science, and ecology. In 2021 SUSU became the winner in the competition under the Priority 2030 program. The university acts as a regional project office of the World-class Ural Interregional Research and Education Centre (UIREC), which is aimed at solving the tasks of the Science and Universities National Project.

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