Mice show women can handle stress better

October 16th, 2008 - 12:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 16 (IANS) Female mice engineered without a neurotransmitter in the lab, known to lower anxiety levels, were less stressed than their similarly configured male counterparts.Tim Karl, behavioural neuroscientist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, explained that “pharmacological tests show that when you introduce NPY (neurotransmitter) to an animal in a stressful situation, its stress levels decrease.”

“Studies have shown that male mice created without NPY are more anxious than normal mice, which is hardly surprising. What is surprising is that female mice without NPY, while still more anxious than normal mice, are less anxious than the males without NPY.”

“Knowing that normal female mice respond in a different way to stress than normal male mice, in the same way that women respond differently to stress than men - they are at least twice as prone to anxiety disorders for example - we didn’t expect what we found.

“The outcomes tell us that you have to do both genetic studies and pharmacological studies to get the whole picture and see what your gene of interest is really doing.

“You also have to look at males and females because we operate differently. Women show a better response to certain antipsychotics than men, for example,” according to a release of Garvan Institute.

“Using female mice in research is complicated by the females’ oestrus cycle - it impacts neuro-physiological parameters, including behaviour and perception of stress.

“For these reasons, and because of the additional time and cost involved in taking such variations into account, people often avoid using females in their research.”

These results have been published in the European Journal of Neuroscience.

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