May 12, 2009

Women’s immunity more powerful than men’s

Women have a more powerful immune system than men, researchers in Montreal found.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found the production of estrogen by females could have a beneficial effect on the innate inflammatory response against bacterial pathogens.

Dr. Maya Saleh of the McGill University Health Centre and McGill University said estrogen naturally produced in women seems to block the production of the enzyme Caspase-12, which 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 defense against pathogenic organisms, Saleh said.

These results demonstrate that women have a more powerful inflammatory response than men, Saleh said in a statement. 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.

The experiments were conducted using a human gene. Therefore, the researchers consider these results to be applicable to humans, Saleh said.