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Man-flu genetic?

Wednesday September 28th, 2011

Man-flu may be a genetic problem, researchers reveal today - setting out how women seem to enjoy more efficient immune systems than men.

Scientists say they are close to tracking down the source of women's ability to fight infection.

They have been concentrating their search on the X-chromosome, which is found twice in women but only once in men.

Dr Claude Libert, of Ghent University in Belgium, says the key lies in microRNAs.

He says many of the microRNAs which help with immunity and preventing cancer are found on the X-chromosome, leaving men at a disadvantage.

He has set out his ideas in the journal BioEssays.

Dr Libert said: “Statistics show that in humans, as with other mammals, females live longer than males and are more able to fight off shock episodes from sepsis, infection or trauma.

“We believe this is due to the X chromosome which in humans contains ten per cent of all microRNAs detected so far in the genome.

"The roles of many remain unknown, but several X chromosome-located strands of microRNA have important functions in immunity and cancer.”

He added: "How this unique form of genetic inheritance influences X-chromosone linked microRNAs will be a challenge for researchers for years to come - not only from an evolutionary point of view, but also for scientists investigating the causes and cures of disease."

X-chromosome-located microRNAs in immunity: Might they explain male/female differences?. Pinheiro. I, Dejager. L, Libert. C, BioEssays September, doi: 10.1002/bies.201100047

Tags: Europe | Genetics | Menís Health | Womenís Health & Gynaecology

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