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Biol Psychiatry. 2006 May 1;59(9):872-4. Epub 2006 Feb 3.

A single administration of testosterone reduces fear-potentiated startle in humans.

Author information

1
Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands. E.Hermans@fss.uu.nl

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Ample evidence from animal research indicates that the gonadal steroid hormone testosterone has fear-reducing properties. Human data on this topic, however, are scarce and far less unequivocal. The present study therefore aimed to scrutinize anxiolytic effects of a single dose of testosterone, using a direct physiological index of fear in humans.

METHODS:

Twenty healthy female participants were tested in a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover design involving sublingual administration of a single dose of testosterone. Four hours after intake, we assessed effects on baseline startle and fear-potentiated startle in a verbal threat-of-shock paradigm.

RESULTS:

In accordance with predictions, testosterone administration resulted in reduced fear-potentiated startle, without affecting baseline startle.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study provides direct evidence that a single dose of testosterone reduces fear in humans. The relationship of this effect to previous research on anxiolytic effects of benzodiazepines, as well as possible mechanisms of action, is discussed.

PMID:
16458259
DOI:
10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.11.015
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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