Scientists from Florida State University, Nicole Carrier and Mohamed Kabbaj have identified antidepressant properties in testosterone (the primary male sex hormone), but they are still unsure of the exact mechanisms underlying its effects.
According an article in Science Daily, a specific pathway in the hippocampus, a brain region involved in memory formation and regulation of stress responses, plays a major role in mediating testosterone’s effects.
Women are twice as likely compared to men to suffer from an affective disorder like depression. Men who are prone to hypogonadism, a condition where the body produces no or low testosterone, also suffer from increased levels of depression and anxiety. Its been shown that testosterone replacement therapy effectively improves mood.
Although it may seem like scientists have all the answers, it is important to understand where these effects are occurring to better target the development of future antidepressant therapies.
When scientists performed multiple experiments on neutered adult male rats, they found that the rats developed depressive-like behaviors that were reversed with testosterone replacement.
They also identified a molecular pathway called MAPK/ERK2 (mitogen activated protein kinase/extracellular regulated kinase 2) in the hippocampus that plays a role in mending the protective effects of testosterone. This pathway may be a promising target for antidepressant therapies.
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