"Imagine how medicine would be taught and practiced if we completely understood the link between the mind and the body - if we could control the placebo effect,
if we could harness the intrinsic healing mechanisms of the body and
prevent the harmful effects of chronic stress.
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 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 combines biochemical and molecular techniques in fresh and frozen cells and tissues.
- Mitochondrial psychobiology: Foundation and applications
Picard M, Trumpff C, Burelle Y. Curr Opin Behav Sci (in press) PDF
- Acute psychological stress increases serum circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA
Trumpff C, Marsland AL, Basualto C, Martin JL, Carroll JE, Sturm G, Gu Z, Vincent A, Kaufman BA, Picard M. Psychoneuroendocrinol 2019; 106:268-276 PubMed PDF
- Predictors of ccf-mtDNA reactivity to acute psychological stress identified using machine learning classifiers: A proof-of-concept
Trumpff C, Marsland AL, Sloan RP, Kaufman BK, Picard M. Psychoneuroendocrinol 2019; 107:82-92 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)
- 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