Lastly, they found that the ratio between TNFα and the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 was associated with sex-dependent effects on activity in the hypothalamus and its communication with the hippocampus, which provides inhibitory control of arousal in the hypothalamus under stress.

“Given that these psychiatric disorders are developing differently in the male and female brain, we should be thinking about sex-dependent targets for early therapeutic intervention and prevention,” says Goldstein.

Co-authors of the study are Justine E. Cohen, (MGH); Klara M. Mareckova, (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic); Laura Holsen, (Brigham and Women’s Hospital); Susan Whitfield-Gabrieli, (Northeastern University); Stephen E. Gilman, (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health); Stephen L. Buka, (Brown University); and Mady Hornig, (Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health).

The study was supported by NIMH and a donor fund from Ms. Gwill York.