Sex and the serotonergic underpinnings of depression and migraine

Marie Spies, Patricia Anna Handschuh, Rupert Lanzenberger, Georg S. Kranz (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Most psychiatric disorders demonstrate sex differences in their prevalence and symptomatology, and in their response to treatment. These differences are particularly pronounced in mood disorders. Differences in sex hormone levels are among the most overt distinctions between males and females and are thus an intuitive underpinning for these clinical observations. In fact, treatment with estrogen and testosterone was shown to exert antidepressant effects, which underscores this link. Changes to monoaminergic signaling in general, and serotonergic transmission in particular, are understood as central components of depressive pathophysiology. Thus, modulation of the serotonin system may serve as a mechanism via which sex hormones exert their clinical effects in mental health disorders. Over the past 20 years, various experimental approaches have been applied to identify modes of influence of sex and sex hormones on the serotonin system. This chapter provides an overview of different molecular components of the serotonin system, followed by a review of studies performed in animals and in humans with the purpose of elucidating sex hormone effects. Particular emphasis will be placed on studies performed with positron emission tomography, a method that allows for human in vivo molecular imaging and, therefore, assessment of effects in a clinically representative context. The studies addressed in this chapter provide a wealth of information on the interaction between sex, sex hormones, and serotonin in the brain. In general, they offer evidence for the concept that the influence of sex hormones on various components of the serotonin system may serve as an underpinning for the clinical effects these hormones demonstrate.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Clinical Neurology
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameHandbook of Clinical Neurology
ISSN (Print)0072-9752
ISSN (Electronic)2212-4152


  • 5-HT
  • Affective disorders
  • Gender
  • Serotonin
  • Serotonin receptors
  • Serotonin transporter
  • Sex
  • Sex hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Sex and the serotonergic underpinnings of depression and migraine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this