Has science found the moody teenage hormone?

UK Telegraph 12 Mar 07
Hormones have long been blamed for mood swings in teenagers, even though the specific scientific causes have never been identified, making it hard to understand and treat adolescent angst. Now scientists have discovered that a hormone normally released in response to stress, a steroid called THP, actually reverses its effect at puberty, when it increases anxiety.The potential cause of pubescent mood swings is reported today in the journal Nature Neuroscience by a team led by Prof Sheryl Smith, of the SUNY Downstate Medical Centre, Brooklyn. In adults, the hormone THP, tetrahydropregnanalone, normally acts like a tranquilliser, acting at sites in the brain that “calm” brain activity. But the team found that in adolescent mice, THP acted on an unusual type of inhibitory receptor – where a receptor can be thought of as a kind of protein switch – and actually increased anxiety.

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