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Published on 16 June 2010

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Gender warning over stress drugs

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Researchers investigating new drug treatments for depression need to take into account gender difference after scientists found that women may be more prone to emotional stress than men.

A study carried out in the US showed that due to the make up of brain chemistry, women are more sensitive to low levels of a key stress hormone.

Published in the online journal Molecular Psychiatry, the study focused in a hormone called corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) that organises stress responses in mammals.

Although carried out on rats, the same response is known to play a role in human psychiatric conditions.

Female rats that underwent a swim test showed signs that their neurons were more sensitive to CRF.

Dr Rita Valentino, from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said: “This may help to explain why women are twice as vulnerable as men to stress-related disorders.

“Pharmacology researchers investigating CRF antagonists (blocking agents) as drug treatments for depression may need to take into account gender differences at the molecular level.”

Copyright Press Association 2010
Molecular Psychiatry



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