Fear and memory produce changes to genes that modulate gene expression, called epigenetic modifications. Epigenetic activation of Cdk5 increased naturally in males, but not in females, after the mice recalled a fear-related memory. Artificial activation of Cdk5 had no effect in male mice, in which Cdk5 was already naturally increased, but reduced the strength of fear memories in female mice, indicating sex differences in how fear is remembered.
"There is growing evidence for sex differences in the neurobiology of fear. These differences may provide important new insights into novel sex-specific treatments for anxiety disorders," said John Krystal, MD, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.
Research - Cdk5 - Stress - Strength - Memories
Although previous research had already shown that Cdk5 is activated by stress and regulates the strength of fear-related memories, it had only been studied in male mice. "We examined both sexes, and found male-specific epigenetic activation of Cdk5 expression after fear conditioning, a model of traumatic memory," said senior author Elizabeth A. Heller, PhD, University of Pennsylvania.
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