February 24, 2024

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Why do women respond differently to depression treatment than men?

Why do women respond differently to depression treatment than men?


Why do women respond differently to depression treatment than men?

Researchers have identified one possible explanation for why women may not respond to depression treatment the same way as men.

Although there are treatments for depression, many people find that these treatments are sometimes unhelpful.

In addition, women have higher rates of depression than men, but the reasons for this difference are unclear, making their disease sometimes more complicated to treat.




Researchers at UC Davis, in collaboration with researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Princeton University and Laval University, sought to understand how a specific area of ​​the brain, the nucleus accumbens, is affected during depression.

The nucleus accumbens plays a key role in motivation, our responses to pleasurable events, and our connection to others — all of which are affected by depression.


Previous studies of the nucleus accumbens have shown that specific genes are turned on or off in women with depression, but not in men.

Depressive symptoms may be triggered by these changes, or the depressive episode itself may have altered the brain.

The researchers examined mice exposed to adverse social interactions that were more likely than males to lead to depression-related behaviors in females.

This allowed the researchers to distinguish between the two hypotheses.


“These high-throughput analyses are invaluable for understanding the long-term effects of stress on the brain. In our rodent model, negative social interactions altered gene expression patterns in female mice, mirroring that in female depression patients. observed patterns,” said Alexia Williams, a doctoral researcher and recent UC Davis graduate who designed and led the studies. “This is exciting because women are under-researched in this field, and this finding allows me to focus on the relevance of these data to women’s health.”


Why do women respond differently to depression treatment than men?


The research was recently published in the journal Biological Psychiatry .


After identifying similar molecular changes in the mouse and human brains, the researchers chose one gene, the regulator of g-protein signaling-2, or Rgs2, to manipulate.

This gene controls the expression of a protein that regulates neurotransmitter receptors that are targeted by antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft.


“In humans, the less stable Rgs2 protein is associated with an increased risk of depression, so we were interested to know that increasing Rgs2 in the nucleus accumbens reduce depression-related behaviors.” He is also an affiliate faculty member at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience and directs the school’s behavioral neuroendocrinology laboratory.


When the researchers experimentally increased the Rgs2 protein in the nucleus accumbens of mice, they effectively reversed the effects of stress in these female mice, noting that social proximity and preference for preferred food increased to less than 20 percent in females who did not experience any stress. levels observed in mice.


“These results highlight a molecular mechanism that contributes to the lack of motivation often observed in people with depression,” Williams said. “The reduced function of proteins like Rgs2 may contribute to those battling psychiatric disorders. People have symptoms that are difficult to treat.”


Findings from basic scientific research like these may guide the development of drug treatments to effectively treat people with depression, the researchers said.


“Our hope is that by doing research like this, which focuses on elucidating the mechanisms underlying specific symptoms of complex psychiatric disorders, we will bring science one step closer to developing new treatments for those in need,” Williams said.







Why do women respond differently to depression treatment than men?

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