Differences between males and females
in rates of serotonin synthesis in human brain

by
Nishizawa S, Benkelfat C, Young SN, Leyton M,
Mzengeza S, de Montigny C, Blier P, Diksic M.
Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery,
McGill University, Montreal,
Quebec, H3A 2B4 Canada.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 May 13;94(10):4823-4


ABSTRACT

Rates of serotonin synthesis were measured in the human brain using positron emission tomography. The sensitivity of the method is indicated by the fact that measurements are possible even after a substantial lowering of synthesis induced by acute tryptophan depletion. Unlike serotonin levels in human brain, which vary greatly in different brain areas, rates of synthesis of the indolamine are rather uniform throughout the brain. The mean rate of synthesis in normal males was found to be 52% higher than in normal females; this marked difference may be a factor relevant to the lower incidence of major unipolar depression in males.
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