Women have a greater capacity than men to resist and control chronic stress thanks to the protective effect of estrogen, concludes a recent study conducted by a group of researchers from the University of Buffalo (UB) in New York (United States).

Previous studies had already proven that women are more resistant to stress, although the cause was not known. The UB scientists conducted an experiment with young female rats, which they exposed for a week to difficult and stressful situations, but not dangerous, similar to those experienced by humans, and did the same with young males.

When the researchers manipulated the amount of estrogen in the brain they managed to make the males respond better to stress

They observed that while the short-term memory of the males was affected, in the case of the females they had no problem remembering and recognizing objects that had previously been shown to them.

The deterioration in the ability to remember occurs as a result of an alteration in the signaling capacity of the glutamate receptor in the area of ​​the brain that controls working memory, attention, emotion and decision making, among other processes, and stress influences the loss of glutamate receptors in young males, while, according to the new work, that same receptor is intact in the case of females subjected to stress.

The UB scientists manipulated the amount of estrogen produced in the brain and achieved that the males responded better to stress than the females, also verifying that when the signaling of the estrogens was blocked in the brain of the females, the stress affected them. negatively.

Zhen Yan, professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics of the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences of the UB, and main author of this research, has explained that if a compound similar to estrogen was discovered and that it did not cause side effects, it could be develop an effective treatment against the problems caused by stress in men, because although stress is not a psychiatric disorder it can become a trigger of this type of pathologies in vulnerable people.

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