Researchers have discovered a new reason why viral infections are often more severe in men: in women, immune cells NK (natural killer) cells have an extra copy of the UTX gene, which boosts their ability to fight viruses.

According to Dr Maureen Su from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and co-author of the study, while it is known that men have more NK cells than women, we did not understand why the increased number of NK cells did not provide more protection during viral infections.

It turns out that women have more UTX in their NK cells than men, which allows them to fight viral infections more efficiently.

Experiments in mouse and human cells show that UTX actually activates and inactivates NK cells, controls the fitness of NK cells and prepares them to respond rapidly to viral infections.

As NK cells are increasingly studied as a treatment for various types of cancer, co-author Tim O’Sullivan, also of the Geffen School, argues that it will be necessary to incorporate sex as a biological factor in treatment decisions and immunotherapy design.

See also
Men and women’s immune systems operate differently: scientists uncovered how

Microbiome Influences Brain’s Immune Cells in a Sex and Age-dependent manner

Whether we are male or female heavily influences the prevalence, course and severity of many diseases

How Being Male or Female Can Affect Your Health

It is time that research studies reflect the differences between men and women

Sex Differences and Organ Transplant Rejection

How do men and women store fat differently?

SUNY Downstate researchers identify possible new targets for treating pain in women

An embryo that is neither male nor female

For more information
nature immunlogy
The X-linked epigenetic regulator UTX controls NK cell-intrinsic sex differences

UCLA David Geffen School of medicine


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