Metabolic disorders, such as abdominal obesity and diabetes, pose an obvious health risk, and occur at a pandemic level, affecting 35 percent of the US population and 20-25 percent of the population in European countries. It goes without saying that viruses such as Hepatitis C (HCV), Ebola, West Nile, and Zika can have drastic health effects.
Anxiety disorders can be harder to identify, although anyone who deals with an anxiety disorder or is close to someone struggling with anxiety knows all-too-well what a burden it can be on one’s lifestyle. There are different types of anxiety (obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobia ) and the severity varies from person to person, so according to News Medical, “The full burden of the anxiety spectrum is difficult to assess, due to under-diagnosis and poorly defined pathophysiological processes.”
Now, according to a recent study from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, there is a metabolic link connecting metabolism, viruses, and anxiety. This discovery is monumental in regards to the proper diagnosis and treatment of both metabolic and anxiety disorders.The research team from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has identified an array of genetic switches that controls the metabolic response to HCV infection.
Essentially, this groundbreaking discovery offers doctors a new and more effective way to treat virus infection “by targeting the genetic regulation of metabolic pathways on which the virus rely”, according to Professor Yaakov Nahmias. “This is the first indication that our cells can block replication of Flaviviridae viruses like HCV and Zika by denying them from critical building blocks the viruses need to survive.”
So, to put it simply, metabolism, viruses, and anxiety are all related at the genetic level in the form of MicroRNA genes. These genes play an important role in suppressing inflammation and halting the production of proteins in the body.
According to an article on the study from Phys.org, metabolism is primarily regulated by genetic switches known as nuclear receptors. These nuclear receptors are a family of proteins found within cells that are activated when they come into contact with metabolites such as fatty acids and glucose. They act as sensors for cells, alerting them and allowing them to respond to changes in nutrition by regulating the expression of hundreds of MicroRNA genes.
When viruses such as HCV enter the body, they can interrupt metabolic regulation, leading to metabolic diseases like fatty liver disease and diabetes. Metabolism also links to anxiety disorders because microRNA pathways share regulatory networks in metabolic and anxiety-related conditions.
While researchers are just beginning to explore the implications of this link between viruses, metabolism, and anxiety, it will no doubt provide doctors with ample opportunities to better understand and target virus infections, as well as develop new DNA-based drugs and other treatments for metabolic and anxiety disorders.