Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, appears to have antidepressant properties.
March 22, 2013
Research scientists at Florida State University, discovered that a specific pathway in the hippocampus (a brain region involved in memory formation and regulation of stress responses) plays a significant role in mediating testosterone’s effects, according to a new report in Biological Psychiatry.
Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression compared to men. Men with a condition known as hypogonadism, in which the body produces no or low testosterone, also suffer increased levels of depression and anxiety.
Testosterone replacement therapy has been shown to effectively improve mood. It is important to fully characterize how and where the effects are occurring so that scientists can better target the development of future antidepressant therapies.
To achieve this goal, the scientists performed multiple experiments in neutered adult male laboratory subjects. They developed depressive-like behaviors that were reversed with testosterone replacement.The researchers also identified a critical molecular pathway called MAPK/ERK2 (mitogen activated protein kinase/ extracellular regulated kinase 2) in the hippocampus that plays a major role in mediating the protective effects of testosterone.This suggests that the proper functioning of ERK2 is necessary before the antidepressant effects of testosterone can occur. It also suggests that this pathway may be a promising target for antidepressant therapies.
It’s interesting to note the beneficial effects of testosterone were not associated with changes in neurogenesis (generation of new neurons) in the hippocampus as it does with other antidepressants like imipramine (Tofranil) and fluoxetine (Prozac).”
Nicole Carrier, Mohamed Kabbaj. Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase 2 Signaling in the Hippocampal Dentate Gyrus Mediates the Antidepressant Effects of Testosterone.
Biological Psychiatry, 2012
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