In addition to plaques that accumulate outside of nerve cells in the brain, Alzheimer’s disease is also characterised by changes inside these cells. Researchers from the Cell Signalling research group at the Chair of Molecular Biochemistry at RUB, headed by Dr. Thorsten Müller, have been st ... more
Children of academics exhibit more stress
If the stress hormone level is elevated for a long time, this can be seen in the hair
Starting university is an exciting phase for everyone. However, children from academic households exhibit significantly more stress during this period than those from non-academic families. A Swiss-German research team has found this out by analysing the hair of female first-year students. Study authors Professor Alex Bertrams from the University of Bern and Dr. Nina Minkley from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have concluded that students may be stressed by the fear of jeopardising the social status of their families if they fail their degrees. They published their report in Frontiers of Psychiatry on 5 June 2020.
Stress hormone accumulates in the hair
In stressful situations, the body releases an increased amount of the hormone cortisol, which also reaches growing hair and is stored there if the levels remain high over a lengthy period of time. By analysing the hair, researchers can identify the phases when a person had more stress.
In order to find out whether the stress levels of young people from different family backgrounds differ when they’re starting university, the research team recruited a total of 71 test persons. “The only inclusion criteria were that they started their first semester and that they had sufficiently long hair,” explains Nina Minkley from the Behavioural Biology and Didactics of Biology research group at RUB. “In the end, this meant that we recruited almost only women, and we decided not to include the few eligible men to avoid falsifying the results.”
Strands of hair and questionnaires
The participants supplied the research team with three thin strands of hair each, which were cut off near the scalp. Since a hair grows about one centimetre per month, the researchers examined the latest one and a half centimetres that had grown in the six weeks since the beginning of the semester. In addition, the participants filled out questionnaires in which they provided information about their parents’ educational background. They were also asked about the stress they subjectively perceived.
It emerged that first-year students from academic households where at least one parent had a university degree exhibit higher stress levels than those from non-academic households, even though they didn’t differ in other respects. The subjectively perceived stress levels, for example, were the same.
Stress due to impending loss of status
The research team interprets this result as an indication of female students from academic households being under greater pressure, because failing their study would result in a loss of status for them and their families. This is in line with findings in sociological studies, which have shown that children of academics tend to go to university even if their academic performance isn’t expected to be successful, based on their school grades. “Children of non-academics, on the other hand, can only win and are therefore probably less stressed,” concludes Minkley.
- hair analysis
- stress hormones
Finding the best material composition among thousands of possibilities is like looking for a needle in a haystack. An international team is combining computer simulations and high-throughput experiments to do this. Catalysts consisting of at least five chemical elements could be the key to ... more
Using a blood test, a German-Dutch research team has predicted the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in people who were clinically diagnosed as not having Alzheimer’s disease but who perceived themselves as cognitively impaired (Subjective Cognitive Declined, SCD). The researchers analyzed blood ... more
- 1Detect neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's by a simple eye scan?
- 2Fluorescence microscopy at highest spatial and temporal resolution
- 3The Mechanics of the Immune System
- 4Resolve Biosciences Launches New Era in Single-Cell Spatial Analysis
- 5Quick look under the skin
- 6New ion trap to create the world's most accurate mass spectrometer
- 7How does your computer smell?
- 8Clocking electron movements inside an atom
- 9Sartorius closes 2020 with strong growth
- 10A clear path to better insights into biomolecules