New Study To Explore Sexual Differences In Social Stress

Why does the mechanism to cope with social stress tend to differ among men and women? Could there be different drug treatments for stress reduction in men and women? These are some of the questions that US researchers will seek answers to in a five-year study.

The Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) at Georgia State University has received a five-year, $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to investigate the neurochemical mechanisms underlying social stress in males and females, a university statement said.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

In this study, Elliott Albers from Georgia State University and Mark Wilson from Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Center hope to define the differences in how brain mechanisms promote resilience to social stress in males and females.

New Study To Explore Sexual Differences In Social Stress


Specifically, they will investigate how two chemicals in the brain - vasopressin and serotonin act to alter the responsivity to social stress, the statement said.

Using hamsters and rhesus monkeys, the project will test the hypothesis that phenotypes characterised by dominance and active coping strategies are more resilient to stress than those characterised by subordinate status.

"We are excited by the potential of this innovative research to both define the basic brain mechanisms involved in regulating the expression of social behaviour and to have a substantial translational impact by defining gender-specific strategies for promoting stress resilience in the development of treatments for psychiatric disorders, such as PTSD," said Albers.

"Our studies have the potential to have an almost immediate clinical impact by guiding different drug treatments for stress reduction in men and women as well as by guiding drug development," Albers noted.

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