Disease Development Patterns May be Linked to Sex of an Individual

A new research conducted at the University of Michigan claims that sex biased differences can considerably set the future immunological diseases patterns in both males and females. Research proved the speculated links between the particular hormones present before and after birth with immune response and future lifelong immunological disease progression.

Study findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where it detailed the reasons behind increased risk of certain diseases in females that are linked with the immune system like asthma, allergies, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome, creating new opportunities to find better treatment interventions based on sex biasness.

To date, given all the scientific data, the concept of sex based immunological differences in females is well known who mount stronger immune response in contrast to males. While, heightened immune response protects females against number of viral, bacterial, and parasitic diseases, and mount more effective vaccine immune response relative to males, yet it also predisposes females towards number of inflammatory, autoimmune, and chronic pain disorders. So far, the most notable identified different sex hormones include estrogen and testosterone in immunological disorders. Moreover, even males are more effected by Covid-19 compared to females.

Source: PNAS

In the study, researchers used mouse model and focused on mast cells, specific immune cells situated throughout the body acting as a first line of defense against pathogens and are known best for their proinflammatory roles in allergic disorders. They play an active role in wound healing, yet under pathological condition when they become overactive, they can initiate chronic inflammatory diseases and reduce the recovery process.  Previously, sex-based differences were found in immune cells.

While mast cell associated diseases include allergy and neuroinflammatory pain disorders, study reveals that it also exhibits a sex biasness, with females at increased risk. Furthermore, female sex bias in mast cells associated immune diseases is obvious in pre-pubertal children. Study finds that mast cells in females store and releases a profound number of pro-inflammatory substances that heightened the inflammation, relative to males. Thus, it is believed that mast immune cells in females are more likely to initiate aggressive and augmented immune response than male mast cells.

Moeser, Matilda R. Wilson Endowed Chair, professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and the study’s principle investigator, explained, “This research shows that it’s our perinatal hormones, not our adult sex hormones, that have a greater influence on our risk of developing mast cell-associated disorders throughout the lifespan. A better understanding of how perinatal sex hormones shape lifelong mast cell activity could lead to sex-specific preventatives and therapies for mast cell-associated diseases.”

Therefore, it is inferred from the study findings, females have upper hand in surviving infections targeting immune system, yet it also subjects them at higher risk for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, compared to men.

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