Washington: Scientists have identified a brain receptor, an enzyme monoamine oxidase A, whose malfunctioning can trigger sudden violence,
explosive outbursts and hostile overraction to stress in mice.
By blocking the receptor, which also exists in humans, scientists
stripped the mice of their extreme aggressiveness, potentially
paving the way to new treatment for severely aggressive behaviour.
The findings by researchers from the University of Southern
California (USC) and Italy are a significant breakthrough in
developing drug targets for pathological aggression, a component
in many common psychological disorders, including Alzheimer's
disease, autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, the Journal
of Neuroscience reports.
"From a clinical and social point of view, reactive aggression is
absolutely a major problem," said Marco Bortolato, research
assistant professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at
the USC School of Pharmacy, who led the study. "We want to find
the tools that might reduce impulsive violence," said Bortolato,
according to an USC statement.
A large body of independent research, including past work by
Bortolato and his colleague and senior study author Jean Shih, has
identified low levels of the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAO A).
Both male humans and mice with congenital deficiency of the enzyme
respond violently in response to stress.