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The influence of androstadienone on neural stress reactions in depression

: Chung, K.C.; Turetsky, B.; Freiherr, J.; Derntl, B.


Chemical senses 41 (2016), No.9, pp.E243
ISSN: 0379-864X
ISSN: 1464-3553
International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste (ISOT) <17, 2016, Yokohama>
Fraunhofer IVV ()

Introduction : Vulnerability to stress is seen as a major risk factor for developing and maintaining depression. Androstadienone (ANDR; Wyart et al., 2007), a synthetic male steroid, has been shown to be a modulator for stress reactions at neural, hormonal and behavioral levels in healthy females and males depending on their stress sensitivities to social threat (Chung et al., 2016a, 2016b). The current study will provide the first look at the influence of ANDR on psychosocial stress responses in depressive patients.
Methods : In this fMRI study, 66 healthy and 21 depressive heterosexual individuals were measured twice, one time using ANDR masked with musk, another time using pure musk (placebo) while performing the Montreal Imaging Stress Task (Dedovic et al., 2005), a mental arithmetic task with social evaluative feedback. BOLD-activity (Siemens 3T; TR=2000ms, TE=28ms, 34 slices, 3.3mm, gap 10%), cortisol, psychophysiological data, subjective stress reaction and behavioral performance were assessed.
Results/Discussion : No group differences in MONEX score (Freiherr et al., 2012), pleasantness, intensity and familiarity of ANDR emerged (all ps>.075). Regarding behavior, significant treatment x group interactions emerged: Patients performed worse under exposure to ANDR compared to placebo. ANDR decreased negative mood and anxiety in patients. Regarding neural activation, a significant treatment effect occurred with stronger activations of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (BA 8, 9) and left dorsal anterior cingulate cortex in the placebo> ANDR contrast. Moreover, a treatment-by-group interaction emerged, as controls showed stronger activation of DLPFC (BA 9, 47) compared to patients in the stress condition.
Taken together, this is the first study to investigate the interaction of ANDR and stress induction in depression. Our findings suggest that cognitive control during social threat processing is impaired in depression when socially salient chemosensory signals, i.e. ANDR, are present.
Acknowledgement : Funded by START Programme (Medical Faculty RWTH Aachen University, Project 691302).