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Growth hormone is made in the brain, report scientists

d with stress, especially in males. The effect in females depended on how much estrogen they had at the time.

"One interesting interpretation of these results is that exposure to a stressful event increases growth hormone expression in males -- but the increase in females may be dependent on their levels of estrogen at the time," said first author Christine P. Donahue. Donahue, formerly a postdoctoral fellow of Ken Kosik, is an instructor in the Department of Neurology at Harvard Medical School.

The authors suggest that because growth hormone in the body is associated with growth of the body, it may also cause growth in the brain. Females have more dendritic spines (parts of neurons) in the hippocampus than do males. This is especially true when estrogen levels are high and when growth hormone levels are high. They also produce more new neurons in the hippocampus during this time.

' "Sex differences in the brain is an area of research that has exploded in recent years," said Shors. "Sex hormones, like estrogen, have a tremendous effect on the growth and architecture of the brain. Several studies in our lab and in others have shown that males learn differently than females. It is possible that sex differences in these hormones are somehow involved."


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Contact: Gail Gallessich
gail.g@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
27-Mar-2006


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