such as "Introduction", "Conclusion"..etc
When it comes to immunity, men may not have been dealt an equal hand.
The latest study by Dr. Maya Saleh, of the Research Institute of the
McGill University Health Centre and McGill University, shows that women
have a more powerful immune system than men. In fact, the production of
estrogen by females could have a beneficial effect on the innate
inflammatory response against bacterial pathogens. These surprising
results were published May 11 in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences.
More specifically, estrogen naturally produced in women seems to
block the production of an enzyme called Caspase-12, which itself blocks
the inflammatory process. The presence of estrogen would therefore have
a beneficial effect on innate immunity, which represents the body's
first line of defence against pathogenic organisms. "These results
demonstrate that women have a more powerful inflammatory response than
men," said Dr. Saleh.
This study was conducted on mice that lack the Caspase-12 gene,
meaning that the mice were extremely resistant to infection. The human
Caspase-12 gene was implanted in a group of male and female mice, yet
only the males became more prone to infection. "We were very surprised
by these results, and we determined that the estrogen produced by the
female mice blocked the expression of the human Caspase-12 gene,"
explained Dr. Saleh. "We were also able to locate where the estrogen
receptor binds on the gene in order to block its expression, which
indicates that the hormone exerts direct action in this case."
Since these experiments were conducted using a human gene, the
researchers consider these results to be applicable to humans. This
feature of the female innate immune system might have evolved to better
protect women's reproductive role.
The positive effect of natural estrogen on our resistence to
infection is also exhibited with synthetic hormones such as
17-beta-estradiol. This finding might therefore open the door to new
therapeutic applications that reinforce the immune system, but a
question remains: will men be amenable to the idea of being treated with
an exclusively female hormone?
This study was supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes for
Health research and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.
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