Known medically as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, this psychiatric condition affects roughly 8 percent of women in their childbearing years. It's characterized by bouts of major depression and/or anxiety and severe irritability during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Symptoms subside with the onset of each menstrual period.
While PMDD has been thought to be linked to hormonal changes over the course of the menstrual cycle, until now an explanation for the susceptibility to hormone-related mood changes has been elusive. "Our initial hope in the study was that by looking at steroid-related genes like those for receptors for steroid hormones such as estrogen, we would be able to find gene differences that might explain why some women have these mood disorders and others don't," said Dr. David R. Rubinow, the study's senior author and the Meymandi distinguished professor and chair of psychiatry at UNC School of Medicine. "This study may begin to provide important clues to the nature of that susceptibility."
The study is the first to identify a genetic variation linked to a mood disorder associated with endocrine changes during the menstrual cycle, Rubinow said. The results will appear in an upcoming print edition of the journal Biological Psychiatry and were published online June 30, 2007. The study was supported by funds from the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
The research involved 91 women for whom the authors prospectively confirmed a diagnosis of PMDD over at least three months. Another 56 women who had no history of mood disorders related to the menstrual cycle served as a comparison group. All the women provided blood samples for genetic analysis.
The team discovered four specific genetic variants, called single nucleotide polymorphisms, in one of the two genes that encode the estrogen receptor. The variants, which are differences in strings of DNA nucleotides A, G, C, or T, were identified in the estrogen receptor alpha gene, ESR1.
Compared to the control group, women with PMDD were significantly more likely to have the ESR1 gene variants, the study found.
"While these are preliminary findings that require replication in larger studies, we would argue that this may explain part of the variance among women in the susceptibility to developing this mood disorder," Rubinow said. "Studies have shown that PMDD is characterized by abnormal sensitivity to reproductive steroids like estrogen. As a receptor for the hormone that can trigger the onset of PMDD symptoms, ESR1 has clear physiologic relevance for this disorder."
The authors acknowledge that as with other complex genetic disorders, the contribution to PMDD of polymorphisms in a single gene may not be large. In addition, they also noted that the findings may be telling us more about the control group.
These women, who have no history of psychiatric problems or menstrual cycle-related symptoms, may have gene variants that protect against PMDD. According to Rubinow, "this is equally interesting because it may help us to understand resilience and protection, which are also very important."
Dr. Susan S. Girdler, professor of psychiatry and director of the UNC Psychiatry Stress and Health Research Program, pointed out that the severity of PMDD symptoms are as great or can be as great as those of women with full-blown major depression or major anxiety disorder. "But what makes them different is that the symptoms are very time-limited and linked strongly with the women's menstrual cycle."
Girdler emphasizes that to qualify for PMDD, symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with everyday functioning - to disrupt relationships, result in social withdrawal, even prompt thoughts of suicide. "We are talking about women who meet very stringent diagnostic criteria for PMDD. This is not the garden variety PMS."
Les Lang | EurekAlert!
WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences