During a stressful encounter, the hormone cortisol activates the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) in the brain that governs how we respond to stress based on retrieval of past experiences. Usually, the situation is correctly appraised, and the best response is selected based on previous experiences. Meanwhile, stress-induced cortisol levels increase and activate the second cortisol receptor type, the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), which promotes memory storage of the stressful experience and the selected coping style in preparation for future encounters. The MR and GR work together to enable the appropriate response to a stressful environment, promote adaptation, and facilitate recovery. Both receptors need to operate in the right balance to maintain optimal resilience. The MR and GR are the biomarkers of interest for our work. The Stress Diagnostics System incorporates these biomarkers into neuropsychological models with the goal of predicting risk for negative side-effects of stress.
OrigenDX holds a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office to identify a set of DNA variations that are inherited together (the set of alleles is known as a “haplotype”). This specific haplotype found on the MR gene is associated with both dispositional optimism and reduced symptoms of depression. The presence of this haplotype may be used as an indicator that a person has reduced susceptibility to a stress disorder. Conversely, the absence of this haplotype may indicate that a person is more vulnerable to developing a stress disorder. Blood or saliva samples analyzed in a laboratory will detect this genetic haplotype. The Stress Diagnostics System analyzes the biomarker lab results, in combination with data from psychological questionnaires, to provide an individual’s risk score for negative side-effects of stress. This risk score is helpful as part of customized interventions to increase resiliency from stress disorders and ideally prevent them from occurring.