Chronic stress damages cells and organs, and promotes dysregulation across organ systems. When the organism fails to function as an integrated system, this causes disease.
Evidence suggests that mitochondria are sensitive to various stressors, which cause maladaptive structural and functional changes in response to chronic stress. This is termed mitochondrial allostatic load (MAL). We study the effects of acute and chronic stressors on mitochondria as a component of the stress-disease cascade.
During stress, mitochondria also release their mtDNA, which can be detected in the bloodstream as circulating cell-free mtDNA (ccf-mtDNA), or circulating mitochondrial genome (CMG) fragments.
Our work on mitochondrial psychobiology focuses on three main objectives:
The mitochondrial phenotype is the integrated sum of mitochondrial structures, molecular composition, and functions. The mitochondrial phenotyping platform for human blood cells developed in collaboration with Yan Burelle combines biochemical and molecular techniques in fresh and frozen cells and tissues.
- Psychological stress and mitochondria: A systematic review (Part I)
Picard M, McEwen BS. Psychosom Med 2018; 80(2):141-153 PubMed PDF
- Psychological stress and mitochondria: A conceptual framework (Part II)
Picard M, McEwen BS. Psychosom Med 2018; 80(2):126-140 PubMed PDF
- A mitochondrial health index sensitive to mood and caregiver stress
Picard M, Prather AA, Puterman E, Cuillerier A, Coccia M, Aschbacher K, Burelle Y, Epel ES. Biol Psychiatr 2018 (in press)
- An energetic view of stress: Focus on mitochondria
Picard M, McEwen BS, Epel ES, Sandi C. Front Neuroendocrinol 2018 (in press) PubMed PDF
- Mitochondrial allostatic load puts the ‘gluc’ back into glucocorticoids
Picard M, Juster RP, McEwen BS. Nat Rev Endocrinol 2014; 10(5):303-10 PubMed PDF