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A Little Stress can be Good for You

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EVANSTON, Ill., Dec 12, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Some levels of stress trigger a cascading reaction inside cells and promote longevity, according to Northwestern University scientists.

"Sustained stress definitely is not good for you, but it appears that an occasional burst of stress or low levels of stress can be very protective," said Richard I. Morimoto, John Evans Professor of Biology, who co-authored the paper with lead author James F. Morley, a graduate student in Morimoto's lab.

The study, which appears in the online journal Molecular Biology of the

Cell, showed that elevated levels of special protective proteins respond to stress.

The acute stress triggers the cells to repair or eliminate misfolded proteins, prolonging life by preventing or delaying cell damage. The article will appear in print in the journal's February 2004 issue.

"Brief exposure to environmental and physiological stress has long-term benefits to the cell because it unleashes a great number of molecular chaperones that capture all kinds of damaged and misfolded proteins," the report said.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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