Women Show Strong Immune Response to PTSD

There are significant differences between men and women when it comes to the frequency of certain anxiety and mood disorders. For example, women are twice as likely as men to be affected by generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobias, panic disorder, and depression. They are also more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder that affects millions of American adults. Two studies, by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco, have found that men and women also have very different immune system responses to chronic PTSD--while women show a strong immune response, men show none at all.

"We know that people with PTSD have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and arthritis, which are diseases associated with chronic inflammation. We also hoped that seeing which genes were expressed in PTSD might show us potential therapeutic approaches that we hadn't thought of," explained Dr. Thomas Neylan, lead author of the study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. By using gene microarray technology, they found that women with PTSD showed a significant increase in immune activation when compared to those without PTSD.

Prior studies using gene microarray technology had inconclusive results, likely because they grouped men and women together. This newer study found that, in contrast to women, men showed no evidence of increased immune activation. A second study, which analyzed data from the same subjects, suggests that the gender differences in immune response may be a result of differences in cell signaling pathways.

Source: Medical News Today
Photo: Pexels

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