September 5, 2013

The Sexism of Diabetes: Gut Microbes and Hormones

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sexismThe chances of a parent with T1D having a child who develops T1D is greater for the father than the mother. This has never been explained but new research published in Immunity may offer a little clarity why the sex discrepancy exists

It turns-out that females can mount a more aggressive response than males when it comes to an infection. But this can backfire when it comes to the development of autoimmune disease.

The study demonstrates that certain microbes cooperate with sex hormones in males to protect them against T1D. Understanding how these microbes cooperate with hormones to affect the immune system can help  identify pathways that can be triggered artificially to protect against the development of autoimmune disease.

Until now, it has not been clear how hormones and microbes work together to influence the gender bias in T1D. However this study identifies microbial communities in male and female mice became different once the mice reached puberty, whereas microbes in females and castrated males were more similar to each other.

Castration  is when a male loses use of the testes. The most abundant sex hormone in the testes is testosterone.  In this study, testosterone and certain microbes specifically protected males against T1D.

The findings of this study may be used to develop new therapies to protect against T1D. Imagine the strain of gut microbes steeped in testosterone to be used in this super vaccination. It’s amazing the things discovered in science every day.

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