[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gonadal steroids are major neuroregulators, and their actions have been proposed to underlie many of the sex differences in brain structure and function. Both basic and clinical studies suggest that these neuroregulatory effects of reproductive steroids are context dependent, with context including age, sex, environment/past experience, and genotype. This chapter focuses on the effects of gonadal steroids on brain function and behavior in women. First, background information is provided on the reproductive endocrine system in women, including the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, as well as the endocrinology of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, the postpartum, and the menopause transition. Second, data will be discussed that demonstrate the role context plays in determining a differential response to gonadal steroids within the central nervous system. Third, evidence from neuroimaging and neuroendocrine studies in humans is described that demonstrate the important neuroregulatory effects of gonadal steroids on physiological systems mediating affective adaptation. Fourth, existing literature is reviewed regarding clinical characteristics and neurobiology of reproductive endocrine-related mood disorders. Finally, recent findings are discussed that identify sources of differential behavioral sensitivity in humans, including polymorphic genetic variants in the steroid signaling pathways and differences in steroid metabolism.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite consistent evidence that premenstrual dysphoria (PMD) is not characterized by abnormalities in basal ovarian hormone secretion, the possibility remains that PMD is associated with an abnormality in the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis. We studied HPO axis regulation in 11 women with prospectively confirmed PMD and 20 asymptomatic controls, during both the follicular and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. Plasma levels of the gonadotropins, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), were obtained before and after stimulation with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) (100 microg intravenously). Potential diagnostic- and menstrual cycle phase-related diferences in basal and plasma hormone levels were analyzed by repeated-measures analysis of variance. No significant differences were observed between women with PMD and controls in either basal or stimulated levels of FSH and LH. Stimulated FSH was significantly increased and stimulated LH was significantly decreased during the follicular compared with the luteal phase in both women with PMD and controls. These data are consistent with prior findings of normal basal reproductive hormone levels in women with PMD. Our data suggest the absence in women with PMD of an abnormality of dynamic ovarian function as measured by GnRH stimulation.
No preview · Article · Jan 2005 · Gynecological Endocrinology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We compared the number and quality of life events reported by depressed perimenopausal women and a non-depressed comparison group. Additionally, we examined the effects of the presence of hot flushes on life event reports. All women were 44-55 years old, had irregular menses and elevated plasma gonadotropin levels. The Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Interview recorded both the frequency of occurrence and the desirability of life events experienced by the women during the six months prior to the interview. Depressed perimenopausal women (n=50) reported significantly more undesirable events [Student's t-test (unpaired) with Bonferroni correction, t(98)=3.9, p=0.001] but not more exit events (e.g., divorce, last child leaving home or death in family) (t(98)=0.9, p=NS) compared to the non-depressed women (n=50). There were no effects of hot flushes on these diagnostic differences. The "empty nest" syndrome does not appear to be relevant in the development of perimenopausal depression. Nevertheless, independent of the presence of hot flushes, perimenopausal depressed women are more likely to report both negative life events and diminished self esteem.
No preview · Article · Mar 2004 · Archives of Women s Mental Health
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Is there a relationship between perimenopausal reproductive function and the onset of mood disorders? The perimenopause is a time of considerable variability in reproductive function and, in some women, is associated with an increased susceptibility to depression. Whether the variability in ovarian hormone secretion during the perimenopause has any causal role in the development of depression remains unclear. Recent epidemiologic data confirm that the perimenopause is a time of increased susceptibility to the onset of depression. Additionally, although similar to major depressive disorder in phenomenology, course, and family and personal history of mood disorder, perimenopausal depression may be distinguished by an antidepressant response to estradiol therapy. This article presents background information relevant to the controversy surrounding the putative relationship between reproductive aging and mood disorders, reviews the endocrinology of the perimenopause, and describes several emerging methodologic issues that may help reconcile conflicting findings in past observational studies and recent randomized controlled trials. Studies examining the prevalence, presentation, and treatment response characteristics of mood disorders occurring during the perimenopause are described as well. The article concludes with recommendations for the evaluation and treatment of women with perimenopausal depression.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite widespread abuse of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), the endocrine effects of supraphysiologic doses of these compounds remain unclear. We administered the AAS methyltestosterone (MT) to 20 normal volunteers in an in-patient setting, examined its effects on levels of pituitary-gonadal, -thyroid, and -adrenal hormones, and examined potential relationships between endocrine changes and MT-induced psychological symptoms.
Subjects received MT (three days of 40 mg/day, then three days of 240 mg/day) or placebo in a fixed sequence with neither subjects nor raters aware of order. Samples were obtained at the ends of the baseline, high-dose MT and withdrawal phases. Potential relationships between hormonal changes and visual analog scale measured mood changes were examined.
Significant decreases in plasma levels of gonadotropins, gonadal steroids, sex hormone binding globulin, free T3 and T4, and thyroid binding globulin (Bonferroni t, p<0.01 for each) were seen during high-dose MT; free thyroxine and TSH increased during high-dose MT, with TSH increases reaching significance during withdrawal. No significant changes in pituitary-adrenal hormones were observed. Changes in free thyroxine significantly correlated with changes in aggressiveness (anger, violent feelings, irritability) (r=0.5,p=0.02) and changes in total testosterone correlated significantly with changes in cognitive cluster symptoms (forgetfulness, distractibility) (r=0.52,p=0.02). Hormonal changes did not correlate with plasma MT levels.
Acute high-dose MT administration acutely suppresses the reproductive axis and significantly impacts thyroid axis balance without a consistent effect on pituitary-adrenal hormones. Mood and behavioral effects observed during AAS use may in part reflect secondary hormonal changes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An association between abnormal changes in reproductive endocrine function during the perimenopause and the onset of depression in some women has been suggested but remains controversial.
We examined basal plasma hormone levels in two samples of women with well characterized, first onset depression (major or minor) during the perimenopause and matched comparison groups of asymptomatic women. Results were compared by analysis of variance.
No significant diagnosis-related differences were observed in plasma hormone measures of the following: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol (E2), estrone (E1), total (T) or free testosterone (FT), or the E2/LH ratio. We did identify significantly lower morning plasma dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulphated metabolite DHEA-S (but not cortisol) levels in the depressed women compared to the non-depressed comparison group. Women with hot flushes (regardless of the presence of depression) were significantly older than women without flushes, had significantly higher plasma levels of FT, LH and FSH, and had significantly lower E2/LH ratios.
Women with first onset depression during the perimenopause are not distinguished from controls on the basis of basal hormone measures of ovarian estrogens, testosterone, or gonadotropins. However, perimenopause-related changes in E2 may interact with low levels of DHEA in some women to increase their vulnerability to develop depression. In contrast to perimenopause-related vasomotor symptoms, depression during the perimenopause is not associated with a simple hormone deficiency state. The relatively low levels of E2 and E1 in the depressed women may have met statistical significance in a much larger and homogenous sample.
No preview · Article · Dec 2002 · Psychoneuroendocrinology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endocrine factors are purported to play a role in the etiology of postpartum depression, but direct evidence for this role is lacking. The authors investigated the possible role of changes in gonadal steroid levels in postpartum depression by simulating two hormonal conditions related to pregnancy and parturition in euthymic women with and without a history of postpartum depression.
The supraphysiologic gonadal steroid levels of pregnancy and withdrawal from these high levels to a hypogonadal state were simulated by inducing hypogonadism in euthymic women-eight with and eight without a history of postpartum depression-with the gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist leuprolide acetate, adding back supraphysiologic doses of estradiol and progesterone for 8 weeks, and then withdrawing both steroids under double-blind conditions. Outcome measures were daily symptom self-ratings and standardized subjective and objective cross-sectional mood rating scales.
Five of the eight women with a history of postpartum depression (62.5%) and none of the eight women in the comparison group developed significant mood symptoms during the withdrawal period. Analysis of variance with repeated measures of daily and cross-sectional ratings of mood showed significant phase-by-group effects. These effects reflected significant increases in depressive symptoms in women with a history of postpartum depression but not in the comparison group after hormone withdrawal (and during the end of the hormone replacement phase), compared with baseline.
The data provide direct evidence in support of the involvement of the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone in the development of postpartum depression in a subgroup of women. Further, they suggest that women with a history of postpartum depression are differentially sensitive to mood-destabilizing effects of gonadal steroids.
No preview · Article · Jul 2000 · American Journal of Psychiatry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine whether there are menstrual cycle-related effects on cortical excitability in normal women.
Ovarian steroid hormones affect neurotransmission in the brain. Data from animal experiments have shown that progesterone metabolites enhance the action of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the cortex, producing benzodiazepine-like (e.g., diazepam and lorazepam) physiologic and behavioral effects. Estradiol has excitatory effects on measures of neuronal excitability, possibly acting through the glutamate system. These effects have been difficult to detect in women using conventional techniques. However, recently, paired transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has been used to detect the effects of GABAergic and glutamatergic drugs in humans. We used this method to measure the effects of the menstrual cycle in normal women.
We tested 13 healthy women during the follicular (low-progesterone) and luteal (high-progesterone) phases of the menstrual cycle using paired TMS. The effect of a subthreshold conditioning pulse on the cortex was tested by measuring the response to a second suprathreshold test pulse and comparing it with the response elicited by the test pulse administered alone.
Conditioning TMS produced more inhibition in the luteal phase than in the follicular phase (p = 0.01), of similar magnitude to the reported effect of benzodiazepine drugs.
This study provides the first direct evidence of changes in the excitability of a cortical network with the menstrual cycle. The results also show a potential confound for studies using transcranial magnetic stimulation in populations that include menstruating women.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We determined whether a classical conditioning paradigm may be used to condition immunologic responses in normal human subjects receiving an optimal immunostimulating dose of recombinant human interferon-gamma (rhIFN-gamma). We conducted a placebo-controlled, double-blind study of 31 normal volunteers in order to determine whether an initially immune-neutral stimulus, oral propylene glycol (PG), could eventually elicit an immune response as a consequence of its being paired with a known immunostimulatory dose and schedule of rhIFN-gamma. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups: (A) rhIFN-gamma injections paired with PG; (B) normal saline injections paired with PG; (C) rhIFN-gamma injections alone. During the 4-week study, subjects received progressively fewer injections so that, by the final week of the study, no injections were given and groups A and B received only PG. The principal outcome measures were serum concentrations of quinolinic acid (QUIN) and neopterin, two nonspecific but sensitive markers of immune activation, and expression of Fc receptors (CD64) on peripheral blood mononuclear cells. RhIFN-gamma injections produced significant and predictable alterations in each of the measured immune parameters. No group B subject made an immune response. Mean serum QUIN levels were significantly higher at the end of week three for subjects in the experimental condition (group A) than for subjects receiving rhIFN-gamma alone (group C) despite receiving identical doses of rhIFN-gamma. Similarly, the predicted decay in mean serum neopterin levels from the end of week 1 to the end of week 2 was seen in group C but not in group A. The exposure of group A to PG blunted the decline of CD64 expression in week four. The data suggest that the pairing of an unconditioned stimulus (rhIFN-gamma) and a conditioned stimulus (PG) permits the conditioned stimulus alone to prolong a cytokine-induced response in normal humans.
Full-text · Article · Mar 1999 · Clinical Immunology