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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