Molecule Results in More Stress for Women

PHILADELPHIA, June 15 (UPI) — A protein that binds stress signals more effectively in females may result in women having a higher sensitivity to stress, U.S. researchers said.

Rita Valentino of the University of Pennsylvania, Debra Bangasser of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues say the gender-specific difference in the stress signaling response of rats may be the cause of females being more sensitive to stress hormones and less able to adapt to them than males.

Corticotropin-releasing factor, a molecule secreted by the brain, regulates the body’s physiological and behavioral response to stress.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, found the brain cells of female rats were excited by doses of corticotropin-releasing factor too low to affect male rats.

The researchers noted most rodent models of stress-related psychopathology use males exclusively but these findings should encourage future studies to take gender into account.

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