Gender medicine and aging

February 12, 2014

Gender medicine and aging

Women have a different regulation of serotonin levels than men.

The cliché that women are more anxious than men has been confirmed in a study carried out by ISN-CNR in Catanzaro in collaboration with the IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia in Rome.

The research published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience states that in women there is a variant of the 5-HTTLPR gene associated in the regulation of serotonin that causes an increase in the individual in this neurotransmitter, with a higher emotional modulation.

Through the most advanced neuroimaging techniques the study published in the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience journal examined the brain anatomy of hundreds of healthy subjects demonstrating how the effect of this genetic variant is greatly influenced by gender at a cerebral level.

“The goal of this research was to find out the exact interaction between genetic predisposition and gender and to further investigate the neurobiological basis of anxiety but, in particular, to establish whether there is a cerebral biomarker involved in affective disorder,” states Antonio Cerasa, NAQ – CNR researcher in Catanzaro.” What we have found is that women who are carriers of the genetic variant that confers a dysregulation of serotonin are more anxious than men, and this susceptibility is manifested at a neurobiological level, with an altered anatomy of a key region in the regulation of emotion: the amygdala.” The role of this small region of the brain is already well known in the clinical setting, “Patients suffering from anxiety-based psychiatric disorders (bulimia nervosa, antisocial disorders), are characterized by anatomical and functional alterations in this area,” concludes the researcher. “Thanks to the results of this study it is possible to imagine that one day, not so far away, with a simple blood test and an MRI, it will be possible to identify people who may have a more pronounced vulnerability to the development of pathological behavior.”