Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Explaining gender differences in anxiety

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Science  21 Oct 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6310, pp. 298-299
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6310.298-g

Differences in the way brain neuronal circuits respond to the hormone oxytocin can explain gender-dependent variation in behavior. Li et al. found that a set of oxytocin-responsive neurons are anatomically similar in both sexes, but in males, they secrete a protein that antagonizes the effect of the stress-associated corticotropin-releasing hormone. This interaction provides an anti-anxiety effect with oxytocin that is not seen in females. Such signaling differences could underlie sex-dependent differences in social or emotional disorders and may reveal new mechanisms for therapeutic intervention.

Cell 10.1016/j. cell.2016.08.067 (2016).

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