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Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Study Explains Why MS Is More Common in Women than in Men
Ever wonder why women are twice as likely to have MS as men are? Find out what's behind the gender bias.
A newly discovered difference between male and female brains might hold the key to why more women than men are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis noticed that a protein called S1PR2, which controls the permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), is more prevalent in those with MS. Further exploration on both mice and humans revealed that, among people diagnosed with MS, women produced far more of this protein than men.
It's a fact that more women than men are diagnosed with MS, but the reason why has left scientists scratching their heads. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “MS is at least two to three times more common in women than in men, suggesting that hormones may also play a significant role in determining susceptibility to MS. And some recent studies have suggested that the female to male ratio may be as high as three or four to one.”
This study is the first to reveal a physical difference between the brains of male and female MS patients, but hormones did not appear to play a role in their findings, said senior author Dr. Robyn Klein, in an interview with Healthline. “In our animal studies, estradiol (a sex hormone) did not change levels of S1PR2," she said. "However, there are more studies to be done.”
Genetic Studies Spark 'Bingo' Moment
Klein and her team studied mice with a disease that resembles MS. Like MS, this disease affects female mice more frequently than it does males. Their study examined gene activity in the regions of the brain typically damaged by MS and compared it with areas normally untouched by the disease.