Depression is generally found to be more prevalent in women compared to men, with women being twice as likely to be diagnosed. A recent gender-based study by McGill University discovered that there are differences between male and female genes and how they relate to depression.
The study, which involved over 270,000 participants, revealed that prediction methods that take into account gender specificity are more precise in determining an individual’s genetic predisposition to depression than those that do not consider gender. The researchers identified 11 sections of DNA associated with depression in women, and only a single section in men.
They also found that depression was specifically linked to metabolic diseases in females, an important aspect to consider when treating women with depression. Despite the biological processes involved in depression being similar in males and females, researchers found that different genes were involved for each sex.
This information can be useful to identify future sex-specific treatments for depression.
“This is the first study to describe sex-specific genetic variants associated with depression, which is a very prevalent disease in both males and females. These findings are important to inform the development of specific therapies that will benefit both men and women while accounting for their differences,” says Dr. Patricia Pelufo Silveira, lead author and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry.
“In the clinic, the presentation of depression is very different for men and women, as well as their response to treatment, but we have very little understanding of why this happens at the moment.”
Reference: “A sex-specific genome-wide association study of depression phenotypes in UK Biobank” by Patrícia Pelufo Silveira, Irina Pokhvisneva, David M. Howard and Michael J. Meaney, 7 February 2023, Molecular Psychiatry.