The study find That women have a different immune system from men and may respond differently to different immune disease processes. For example, Therefore studies have shown that women are eight times more likely to get autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis; lupus and rheumatoid arthritis compared to men but have a lower risk of certain cancers such as colon, kidney; melanomas and lung cancers. Further women seem to respond better to immunotherapies for certain cancers than men.
Different immune disease processes
A team of researchers from Arizona State University looked at the reason why the immune system in women is different from that of men. Their research was published this week in the journal Trends on Genetics. The team explains that this study could pave the way for deeper understanding of certain cancers and autoimmune disorders.
Melissa Wilson, assistant professor with ASU’s School of Life Sciences and senior author of the paper, in a statement said, “Until now; the differences between women and men in regards to human diseases have not been explained by existing theories. We are proposing a new theory called The Pregnancy Compensation Hypothesis.”
Placenta and the pregnancy
Calling it the “pregnancy pickle”; she explained that the placenta and the pregnancy are “immunologically invasive” and the women bear them. This makes her immune system different from men. She said, “Basically; women’s immune systems evolved to facilitate their survival during the presence of an immunologically invasive placenta and pregnancy; and compensate so they could also survive the assault of parasites and pathogens.
But now, in modern; industrialized societies, women are not pregnant all the time so they don’t have a placenta pushing back against the immune system. The changes in their reproductive ecology exacerbate the increased risk of autoimmune disease because immune surveillance is heightened. At the same time, we see a reduction in some diseases, like cancer.”
Particular pieces of the immune
Lead author of the study Heini Natri is a postdoctoral scholar with the ASU Center for Evolution and Medicine. She said that this study reveals how immunotherapy could be tailor made for men and women. She said; “We think the Pregnancy Compensation Hypothesis can explain why there’s a big sex difference in these diseases.
Going forward, understanding the evolutionary origin of the sex bias in these diseases can help us better understand the mechanisms and particular pieces of the immune system we can target.” She added, “Our goal is to actually make treatments better for everyone. We are realizing that cancer is different in men and women. In the study of most cancers and other diseases, and so far in the development of cancer treatments, that has not really been taken into account.”