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Hormonal changes during physiological development can alter immune response to viruses and infections

Researchers Release Results of New Study, Sex Differences in Hantavirus Infection: Interactions Among Hormones, Genes and Immunity

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- It is generally recognized among immunologists that males of all species have lower immunity than females. Men are more susceptible to a variety of infections, such as dysentery, gonorrhea, and malaria; and to certain cancers. Females are at greater risk of illnesses caused by an overactive immune system, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, diabetes ulcerative colitis, and arthritis.

Why men and women respond differently to infections caused by viruses or other parasites remains a mystery. How the immune system adopts certain strategies towards particular illnesses has not been determined. Examining gender characteristics, hormones and genes, and how they interact with immunology could provide answers to these questions. This was the goal of a team of Johns Hopkins researchers as they set out to determine how differences in sex are expressed in rats' response to hantaviruses (sex differences in hantaviruses represent an ecologically and clinically relevant model for studies of sex-based differences in infection).

Researchers Sabra L. Klein, Ph.D., A.L. Scott, and G.E. Glass, Ph.D., all from the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Md., have conducted a study on "Sex Differences in Hantavirus Infection: Interactions Among Hormones, Genes, and Immunity." Their findings are to be presented at the conference, Genomes and Hormones: An Integrative Approach to Gender Differences in Physiology, being sponsored by the American Physiological Society (APS) October 17-20, 2001, at the Westin Convention Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Methodology and Results
These researchers first set out to determine if manipulating sex steroids in adult rodents would impact the respon
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Contact: Donna Krupa
703-967-2751
American Physiological Society
18-Oct-2001


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