Hormones in Psychiatry Group

Our research focuses on understanding the neural mechanisms underlying the development of psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders, especially schizophrenia and ADHD. We have a particular interest in understanding sex differences and the action of sex steroid hormones (e.g. estrogen) in these disorders.

We hope to identify the mechanisms underlying sex differences and the beneficial effects of estrogen in diseases, to deepen our understanding of the complex aetiology of these disorders. By understanding these mechanisms, we can identify new and better treatments.

Research interests

  • Schizophrenia
  • Hormones
  • Sex differences
  • Psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders

  • Preclinical models of neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Maternal immune activation
  • Prepulse inhibition
  • Neuropsychopharmacology

About our research

Sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are increasingly implicated in psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. There are marked sex differences in the risk, severity of symptoms and functional outcomes in schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, ASD and ADHD. The strongest candidate to explain these differences is sex hormones.

Our research aims to identify the mechanisms underlying the effects of sex hormones in psychiatric disorders. This will enhance our understanding of the complex aetiology of these disorders and highlight the importance of recognising sex differences in symptoms and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Ultimately, our research aims to identify novel therapeutic strategies.

We specialise in using neuropsychopharmacological approaches to examine sex steroid regulation of the brain and behaviour in disease. We use multidisciplinary methods, combining various preclinical models, behavioural measures and molecular studies, as well as human cognitive testing. We use maternal immune activation models to explore the role of prenatal inflammation on the development and severity of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Our significant findings include that 17β-estradiol (the most potent estrogen) has a therapeutic effect on some symptoms of schizophrenia. Using a rat maternal immune activation model of schizophrenia, we found that behavioural deficits relevant to schizophrenia were reversed by 17β-estradiol treatment, and that these effects were likely mediated by dopamine D2 receptors in the nucleus accumbens.

Later, we used a whole transcriptome discovery approach to probe the molecular mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of estrogen. We identified a number of genes that are changed in the frontal cortex of rats that have their endogenous source of hormones removed compared with exogenous estrogen replacement.

Overall, our research highlights the need for researchers and clinicians to consider sex differences, hormonal equilibrium in women and the important role of sex hormones in several disorders.

Research team

Research team head

Dr Andrea Gogos

Group Head

Team members

PhD students

  • Alicia Bjorksten

Visiting student

  • Damon Zethoven

Selected publications

  • Sbisa A, Kusljic S, Zethoven D, van den Buuse M and Gogos A (2020), ‘The effect of 17β-estradiol on maternal immune activation-induced changes in prepulse inhibition and dopamine receptor and transporter binding in female rats’, Schizophrenia Research, 223:249–257, doi:10.1016/j.schres.2020.08.015
  • ‌Gogos A, Ney LJ, Seymour N, Van Rheenen TE and Felmingham KL (2019), ‘Sex differences in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and post‐traumatic stress disorder: are gonadal hormones the link?’, British Journal of Pharmacology, 176(21):4119–4135, doi:10.1111/bph.14584
  • Gogos A, Sbisa A, Witkamp D and van den Buuse M (2020), ‘Sex differences in the effect of maternal immune activation on cognitive and psychosis-like behaviour in Long Evans rats’, The European Journal of Neuroscience, 52(1):2614–2626, doi:10.1111/ejn.14671
  • Gogos A and van den Buuse M (2022), ‘Sex differences in psychosis: focus on animal models’, Current topics in behavioral neurosciences, 62:133-163, doi:10.1007/7854_2022_305
  • Dean B and Gogos A (2021), ‘The impact of ovariectomy and chronic estrogen treatment on gene expression in the rat cortex: implications for psychiatric disorders’, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 127:105192, doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2021.105192

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