Gene linked to premenstrual disorder
Premenstrual disorder may be linked to a specific gene, research on mice has shown.
In a unique study scientists have linked part of the genome to mood disorders related to the menstrual cycle. They looked at a protein called BDNF which works with oestrogen, a hormone used to regulate the menstrual cycle.
Both BDNF and oestrogen work together to help make neurones adapt better in the part of the brain involved in memory and mood. However, a change in the gene which makes the protein can instead lead to the production of another protein called BDNF Met. Studies have revealed that the protein BDNF Met is found in approximately 20-30% of Caucasian women.
The team studied mice that produced BDNF Met and found them to be more skittish compared to mice with the normal protein. For the tests both groups of mice had to complete two tasks. In the first they had to remember where an object was placed and in the second they had to tell the difference between two objects such as a small pill bottle and a nail varnish bottle of the same size. Mice with BDNF Met performed much worse in both tasks than mice with the normal protein.
It is hoped that this research will bring a greater understanding of problems related to the menstrual cycle such as PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Common symptoms of this disorder include mood swings, fatigue and panic attacks.
Scientists also believe that this study will prove useful for future researchers investigating the role of the cell and hormones outside of reproduction in areas such as anxiety.