Women’s genes change during PMT, scientists find, raising hope for cure
A treatment for pre-menstrual tension (PMT) could be on the horizon after scientists found that genes go haywire as hormones change during a woman’s monthly cycle.
Up to 80 per cent of women complain of irritability, depression and anxiety in the days leading up to their period but it was widely believed to be a mood disorder triggered by fluctuations in chemicals in the brain.
For around one in 20, the condition is so severe that they need anti-depressants and can suffer disabling headaches, severe fatigue and aching muscles.
Now scientists have discovered that in women who suffer PMT (also called premenstrual syndrome or PMS) the change in hormones before their period radically alters how their genes function. Some genes, which should become active actually dial back, while others which should be quiet become more energetic.
Researchers from the National Institutes for Health (NIH), in the US, described the finding as a significant breakthrough because it proves for the first time that women are not simply suffering mood swings. In fact, their whole biology is out of joint.
“This is a big moment for women’s health, because it establishes that women have an intrinsic difference in their molecular apparatus for response to sex hormones – not just emotional behaviors they should be able to voluntarily control,” said Dr David Goldman, of the NIH.
Researchers believe that women who suffer from severe PMT are genetically much more sensitive to surges of hormones, which occur throughout the menstrual cycle.
To test whether the sensitivity was having an impact on cells, the team looked a white blood cells from women with severe PMT and compared them to the cells of women who never suffer symptoms.
White blood cells express many of the same genes as brain cells, so studying them can give a window into what is happening in the brain. READ MORE