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Beau's Mom

Gender specific dopamine levels?

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Hello, Dr. Okun,


I caught a line from a non-PD related video I watched tonight: "Men have higher levels of dopamine than women."


Is this true? It also caused me to question exactly what dopamine affects besides muscle movement. Is that, too, different in men than in women? Do mean and women experience PD differently in any significant way, like they do the signs of a heart attack? Why are there more men afflicted with PD than women? My curiosity is aroused!


As always, many thanks for your input!

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The gender specifics in PD are interesting. No one knows why men get it more frequently. Also levels of many hormones can be different. Finally there are many papers showing differences in PD symptoms between men and women. A further understanding could be critical to the development of future treatments. Here is an abstract you might enjoy.



Maturitas. 2010 Apr;65(4):352-8. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2010.01.001. Epub 2010 Feb 1.

Parkinson's disease in women: a call for improved clinical studies and for comparative effectiveness research.




Department of Medicine, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA. juliessa.pavon@duke.edu



The incidence and prevalence of Parkinson's disease (PD) is expected to rise precipitously over the next several decades, as will the associated healthcare related costs. The epidemiology and disease manifestations of PD may differ when comparing women to men. Women are for example less likely to acquire PD, and in several studies have demonstrated a delayed onset of motor symptoms. Women, however, are more likely to experience PD-related complications that may lead to disability (e.g. depression and medication-associated dyskinesia). Further, there are purporteddifferences in the treatment and treatment outcomes in PD men compared to women. Whether estrogen, other hormonal activity, or whether multiple factors underpin these findings remains unknown. Also unknown is whether estrogen itself may represent a therapeutic option for symptomatic PD treatment. This review summarizes what is known about gender differences in epidemiology, clinical features, treatment outcomes (medical and surgical/deep brain stimulation), and social impact among all available PD studies. We offer expert opinion regarding the shortcomings of the current evidence, and we propose a detailed list of studies that will help to clarify important gender related PD questions. Our hope is that this review will spark comparative effectiveness research into improving care and outcomes in women with PD.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID: 20117891 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] PMCID: PMC2875870 Fr

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It is a review article, but you can write to Dr. Juliessa Pavon in the Department of Medicine at Duke.

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