Inflammation induces anhedonia, which is a core feature of depression, in women, but not in men.
The new study published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, shows that inflammation is linked to reduced activity in the brain’s reward centre, the signature of anhedonia.
The senior author Naomi Eisenberger, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, said: “Our study is the first to show that there are sex differences in neural sensitivity to reward in response to inflammation, which has important implications.This may suggest one reason women experience depression at a far greater rate than men, particularly for the kinds of depression that may be inflammatory in nature.”
What is anhedonia?
According to Elsevier, anhedonia is a core feature of depression that reflects a loss of pleasure in activities or things.
Women are between two and three times more likely to be diagnosed with depression. The new study on anhedonia and the link to inflammation identifies a key difference in men and women that could contribute to these differences in diagnosis rates of depression.
Women are two-to-three times more likely to be diagnosed with depression, and the new findings pinpoint a key difference in men and women that could contribute to the lopsided rates of the disorder.
Women with chronic inflammatory disorders
The first author is Mona Moieni, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Eisenberger. Moieni commented: “This suggests that women with chronic inflammatory disorders may be particularly vulnerable to developing depression through decreases in sensitivity to reward. Clinicians who treat female patients with inflammatory disorders may want to pay close attention to these patients for possible onset of depressive symptoms.”
Cameron Carter, MD, Editor of Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, explained: “This study highlights the important gender differences that exist in the human brain and suggests a mechanism that might help explain the greater prevalence of depression in women compared to men,” said Cameron Carter, MD, Editor of Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.