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Administration of testosterone increases functional connectivity in a cortico-cortical depression circuit
SourceJournal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 17, (2005), pp. 372-377, article 3
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC CO
Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control
Increasing evidence suggests that the steroid hormone testosterone (T) enhances libido and decreases depression. Even a single administration of T (0.5 mg sublingually) in healthy young women is sufficient to enhance physiological sexual responsiveness. Such physiological evidence is not yet available for the link between T and depression. Recent research has revealed that lowered functional connectivity in a specific cortico-cortical pathway may be a sensitive physiological index for depression. This pathway, comprised of the left prefrontal and right parietal cortex, has been named a cortical depression circuit. In the present study, a single dose of T was administered to healthy young women to investigate the effects on the functional connectivity in this cortico-cortical depression circuit. It was hypothesized that administration of T would lead to an increase of functional connectivity. In a double-blind placebo-controlled, crossover design, fourteen healthy females received (sublingually) a single dose of 0.5 mg T or placebo in a randomly assigned fashion. Three hours after drug administration the functional coupling between the left prefrontal and right parietal cortex was established by measuring the interhemispheric electroencephalogram (EEG) coherence for the different frequency bands. Compared to placebo, T administration significantly increased the functional connectivity in the σ (1—3 Hz) frequency range between the left prefrontal and right parietal cortex. Reductions in interhemispheric coherence in the σ frequency range have been observed in clinically depressed patients. Thus the present findings may provide a first insight into the neurobiological mechanism by which T decreases depression. The fact that only a single dose of T was able to induce the effect in healthy female subjects suggests that the mechanism is highly sensitive. A feasible application of T treatment in the struggle against depression is discussed.
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