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Depression in Women: Windows of Vulnerability and New Insights Into the Link Between Estrogen and Serotonin

Sonali Lokuge, MSc; Benicio N. Frey, MD, PhD; Jane A. Foster, PhD; Claudio N. Soares, MD, PhD, FRCPC; and Meir Steiner, MD, PhD, FRCPC

Published: November 15, 2011

Article Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this commentary is to provide an update on the research in both preclinical and clinical models regarding the cross-talk between estrogen and various serotonin molecular markers and the possible implications this may have on female-related mood disorders.

Conclusions: Animal and human studies provide strong and consistent evidence suggesting that estrogen is able to regulate the serotonin pathway at various levels. The general trend that emerges is that estrogen administration increases serotonin availability by altering mRNA and protein levels of various serotonin markers and by decreasing serotonin breakdown. These effects may have direct implications on female mood disorders such as premenstrual disorders and depression during pregnancy, postpartum, and during the menopausal transition.

J Clin Psychiatry 2011;72(11):e1563-e1569

Submitted: April 21, 2011; accepted August 19, 2011 (doi:10.4088/JCP.11com07089).

Corresponding author: Meir Steiner, MD, PhD, FRCPC, Women’s Health Concerns Clinic, St Joseph’s Healthcare, 301 James St South, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8P 3B6 (

Volume: 72

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