Gene with role in premenstrual disorder identified

February 9th, 2010 - 5:35 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 9 (ANI): Scientists at Rockefeller University say they have identified a gene that is a strong candidate for involvement in premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and other problems associated with the natural flux in hormones during the menstrual cycle.

With the help of experiments in mice, the Rockefeller scientists and their colleagues at Weill Cornell Medical College have shown that a common human variant of the gene increases anxiety, dampens curiosity and tweaks the effects of estrogen on the brain, impairing memory.

According to the researchers, if applied in the clinic, the work could help diagnose and treat cognitive and mood disorders related to the menstrual cycle and inform treatments during menopause, such as hormone replacement therapy.

The experiments homed in on the gene for a protein that, among other things, works with estrogen to enhance the adaptability of neurons in the hippocampus, a brain region that plays a key role in mood, cognition and memory.

A change in one amino acid in this gene, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), creates the variant BDNF Met, which is carried by 20 to 30 percent of Caucasian women.

Past research showed that it is a risk factor for psychiatric problems such as depression and bipolar disorder and is generally associated with higher anxiety and impaired memory.

The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

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