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Nat Neurosci. 2015 Oct;18(10):1413-20. doi: 10.1038/nn.4112. Epub 2015 Sep 25.

Sex differences and stress across the lifespan.

Bale TL1,2,3, Epperson CN1,3,4.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
2
Department of Biomedical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
3
Penn Center for the Study of Sex and Gender in Health, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
4
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Abstract

Sex differences in stress responses can be found at all stages of life and are related to both the organizational and activational effects of gonadal hormones and to genes on the sex chromosomes. As stress dysregulation is the most common feature across neuropsychiatric diseases, sex differences in how these pathways develop and mature may predict sex-specific periods of vulnerability to disruption and increased disease risk or resilience across the lifespan. The aging brain is also at risk to the effects of stress, where the rapid decline of gonadal hormones in women combined with cellular aging processes promote sex biases in stress dysregulation. In this Review, we discuss potential underlying mechanisms driving sex differences in stress responses and their relevance to disease. Although stress is involved in a much broader range of diseases than neuropsychiatric ones, we highlight here this area and its examples across the lifespan.

PMID:
26404716
PMCID:
PMC4620712
DOI:
10.1038/nn.4112
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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