It has long been known that viral infections in men can be more severe than in women, but the reason for this has still remained a mystery.
Scientists suggest that the key to this puzzle may lie in an epigenetic regulator that boosts the activity of specialized antiviral immune cells known as natural killer (NK) cells.
And in a study published March 16 in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Immunology, a collaborative team of UCLA researchers found that natural killer cells (NACs) in female mice and humans have an extra copy of the gene. called UTH.
UTX acts as a genetic regulator to enhance the antiviral function of natural killer cells while downregulating natural killer cells.
“Although it is known that men have more natural killer cells than women, only “we did not understand why an increased number of natural killer cells does not provide more protection during a viral infection. It turned out that women have more UTX cells.” in their natural killer cells than in men, allowing them to fight viral infections more effectively.”
The scientists noted that the results were identical in mice with and without gonads (ovaries in females, testicles in males), indicating that the observed trait was not associated with hormones.
What’s more, female mice with reduced UTX expression had more natural killer cells that were unable to control viral infection.
“This indicates that UTX is a critical molecular factor that determines sex differences in natural killer cells,” said study lead author Mandy Cheng, a graduate student in the Department of Molecular Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The results suggest that immune response-enabled therapies should move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to the precision medicine model, also known as personalized medicine, which develops treatments based on individual differences such as genetics, environment, and other health factors. Health and disease risk, according to scientists.
“Given the recent excitement about the use of natural killer cells in the clinic, we will need to consider gender as a biological factor when making treatment decisions and developing immunotherapy,” said study co-author Tim O’Sullivan, assistant professor of microbiology, immunology and medicine. molecular genetics at the Geffen school.
Source: Medical Express
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