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Neurobiology of resilience


Humans exhibit a remarkable degree of resilience in the face of extreme stress, with most resisting the development of neuropsychiatric disorders. Over the past 5 years, there has been increasing interest in the active, adaptive coping mechanisms of resilience; however, in humans, most published work focuses on correlative neuroendocrine markers that are associated with a resilient phenotype. In this review, we highlight a growing literature in rodents that is starting to complement the human work by identifying the active behavioral, neural, molecular and hormonal basis of resilience. The therapeutic implications of these findings are important and can pave the way for an innovative approach to drug development for a range of stress-related syndromes.

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Figure 1: Schematic of gene × environment interactions that promote resilience.
Figure 2: Stress inoculation shifts the inverted U-shaped curve to promote resilience.
Figure 3: Brain circuitry implicated in resilience to depression and anxiety disorders.
Figure 4: Active molecular mechanisms in limbic brain circuits that promote resilience in animal models.


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Preparation of this review was supported by grants from the US National Institute of Mental Health: R01 MH090264 (S.J.R.); K23 MH094707 (J.W.M.); R01 MH092306 (M.-H.H.); and R01 MH51399, P50 MH66172 and P50 MH96890 (E.J.N.).

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Russo, S., Murrough, J., Han, MH. et al. Neurobiology of resilience. Nat Neurosci 15, 1475–1484 (2012).

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