woman in conversationNational Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers have discovered molecular mechanisms that may underlie a woman’s susceptibility to disabling irritability, sadness, and anxiety in the days leading up to her menstrual period.

PMDD – PMS

Such premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)affects 2 to 5 percent of women of reproductive age, whereas less severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is much more common.

“We found dysregulated expression in a suspect gene complex which adds to evidence that PMDD is a disorder of cellular response to estrogen and progesterone,” explained Peter Schmidt, M.D. of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health, Behavioral Endocrinology Branch. “Learning more about the role of this gene complex holds hope for improved treatment of such prevalent reproductive endocrine-related mood disorders.”

Schmidt, David Goldman, M.D., of the NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and colleagues, report on their findings January 3, 2017 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Genetic Link

“This is a big moment for women’s health, because it establishes that women with PMDD have an intrinsic difference in their molecular apparatus for response to sex hormones – not just emotional behaviors they should be able to voluntarily control,” said Goldman.

In women with PMDD, experimentally turning off estrogen and progesterone eliminated PMDD symptoms, while experimentally adding back the hormones triggered the re-emergence of symptoms. This confirmed that they had a biologically-based behavioral sensitivity to the hormones that might be reflected in molecular differences detectable in their cells.

“For the first time, we now have cellular evidence of abnormal signaling in cells derived from women with PMDD, and a plausible biological cause for their abnormal behavioral sensitivity to estrogen and progesterone,” explained Schmidt.

 

Christine Lorenzen

Christine Lorenzen

Christina Lorenzen, author, and editor of Ages and Stages of Child Development Section, she specializes in parenting and health issues. In addition to this column, Christine is also a columnist for Connecting Home magazine.
Christine Lorenzen
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