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Do men have weaker immune systems than women?


Hamna Humail

18th Oct, 2020. 08:52 pm
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immune system

It is said that men have weaker immune systems in comparison to women. Social and cultural factors may play a role in making a difference.

Earlier when Covid-19 broke out, data gathered from hospitals in China showed the virus killing far more men than women. This difference was observed in other Asian countries such as South Korea and later in Europe and America too.

According to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was seen that coronavirus had killed nearly 17,000 more American men than woman.

Those not familiar with role of gender in disease were bewildered by the statistics. A possible trait for the disparity could be male behavior. It is believed that men could be more likely to be exposed to the virus due to social factors. 10 months into the pandemic, it was noticed that men showed a comparatively weaker immune response to coronavirus.

“If you look at the data across the world, there are as many men as women that are infected. It’s just the severity of disease that is stronger in most populations in men,” said Franck Mauvais-Jarvis, a Tulane University physician who studies gender differences in such diseases as diabetes.

Women are known to generally have a stronger immune system owing to chromosomes packed with immune-related genes.

Akiko Iwasaki studies immune defense against viruses at Yale University and wanted to observe how gender difference may play a role in coronavirus.

“We did a holistic look at everything we can measure immunologically,” Iwasaki said, listing a litany of the molecules and cells that form the body’s bulwark against pathogens: “cytokines, chemokines, T cells, B cells, neutrophils. Everything that we had access to.”

It was observed that the T-cell response was weaker in men. The T-cells detect infected cells and kill them. They also help direct the antibody response. Iwasaki’s work indicates the T-cells response of men in their 30s and 40s is equivalent to that of a woman in her 90s.

Having autoantibodies leads to more viral replication for any disease. 95 out of 101 people with autoantibodies against interferon were male. It is not yet known why males are more prone to develop such autoantibodies.

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