21 February 2008

Why women are more prone to depression than men

Marina Astvatsaturyan, Echo of Moscow

It was found that the brains of men and women differ in the system of serotonin reuptake – a hormone that is produced in the brain and plays an important role in its work, failures in the serotonin system greatly affect our mood

The study of sex differences at the level of the system that regulates the level of the "hormone of happiness" (this is the common name of serotonin) was conducted at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm by Hristina Jovanovic, a graduate student from Serbia. Serotonin produced in the brain is a neurotransmitter, i.e. a carrier of signals between nerve cells. Its level is controlled by a system called the serotonin reuptake system and regulates the level of free serotonin, depending on the need of the body, then binding it, then releasing it back.

This is the basis for the action of most antidepressants – they suppress the molecules that bind serotonin, thereby increasing its amount in a free, unbound state. For reasons still unclear, depression and chronic anxiety are more common in women than in men. The author of the study in question suggests that one of the reasons has now been found. The results of positron emission tomography showed that men and women differ in the number of serotonin binding points in certain areas of the brain.

These results are presented in Yovanovich's dissertation, which she defends on February 29, fragments of the work have been published in a number of international publications, including, for example, the journal Neuropsychopharmacology. The main conclusion of the study is that women have more serotonin receptors, i.e. serotonin binding agents, than men. In addition, it turned out that women have lower levels of the protein that transports serotonin back to the nerve cells that secrete it. This is the protein that current antidepressants are targeting.

"We don't know exactly what this means, but the results will help to understand why the appearance of depression is so different in the two sexes, and why men and women react differently to antidepressant medications," explains in a document distributed by the Karolinska Institute, research supervisor Jovanovich, associate Professor Anna-Lena Nordstrom (Anna-Lena Nordström). In her opinion, now, with the discovery of the dependence of the serotonin system on the sex of a person, when developing antidepressants and sedatives, their effect on men and women should be evaluated separately.

Portal "Eternal youth" www.vechnayamolodost.ru21.02.2008

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