High-Dose Testosterone Increases Levels of Serotonin Transporters in Human Brain, Potentially Leading to Increased Binding of SSRI Anti-Depressant Drugs

Female sex hormones have a strong effect on the psyche. This has been confirmed by numerous scientific studies and by phenomena such as the "baby blues," a bout of low mood following childbirth, or recurrent mood swings that occur prior to menstruation. However the male sex hormone testosterone also affects our mood and emotions, as well as our libido, and in a positive way. In a study published online on September 23, 2014 in an open-access article in Biological Psychiatry, researchers from the MedUni Vienna in Vienna, Austria have now discovered a potential biological mechanism behind this relationship. As they grow older and as their sex hormone output falls, men suffer more commonly from depression and some studies have already demonstrated a positive effect of testosterone supplementation on the moods of the test subjects. Now, a study led by Dr. Rupert Lanzenberger from the University Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy has demonstrated for the first time worldwide that testosterone increases the number of serotonin transporters (proteins) in the human brain. These proteins regulate the concentration of serotonin and are also the target for antidepressants. As a model for investigating the effect of testosterone, the researchers from the MedUni Vienna chose hormone therapy given to transsexuals. Primary author Dr. Georg Kranz says, "Transsexuals are people who feel that they are living in the wrong body and who therefore want high doses of opposite gender hormone therapy to adapt their appearance to that of the other gender. Genetic women are given testosterone, while genetic men are given oestradiol and medications to suppress testosterone production." Using the imaging method of positron emission tomography (PET), the scientists, together with Drs.
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