Women More Prone To Developing Autoimmune Diseases Than Men, Scientists Claim

Discussion in 'Immunology and Rheumatology' started by Hadeel Abdelkariem, Jun 21, 2019.

  1. Hadeel Abdelkariem

    Hadeel Abdelkariem Golden Member

    Apr 1, 2018
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    One of the most enduring mysteries in human medicine is why women suffer from autoimmune diseases more than men. Scientists suggested that a rodent pegged as the common ancestor of placental mammals including humans may shed light on this mystery.

    A study published in the Trends in Genetics journal explained how scientists found that a placental ancestor of mammals is key to solving the mystery of why women suffer from autoimmune diseases more than men. As per evolutionary biologist Melissa Wilson and her colleagues from Arizona State University, the “pregnancy compensation hypothesis” may hold clues in finding a cause to women’s susceptibility to autoimmune diseases.


    The theory claims that women and other placental mammals evolved in such a way that they can sustain pregnancy during their adult years. Before female contraception such as birth control pills were resorted to, females bore eight to 12 children each. In order to cope with changes to the body due to the numerous pregnancies, the mother’s immune system adapted to the recurring pregnancies. Their placenta evolved and signaled their immune system to change its activities so the mother does not eject the organ and the fetus. In effect, their immunity declined over time to accommodate pregnancy.

    The decline then caused female bodies to become more susceptible to autoimmune diseases. Their bodies became sensitive to pathogens which also adversely affect their fetuses. Wilson and her colleagues suggested that this is the reason why germs are more dormant during pregnancy.

    The Atlantic that since women have two X chromosomes while men only have one, women have more of the immune genes making theirs more aggressive.

    Wilson then suggested that the pregnancy-compensation hypothesis collates other theories into one and explains the role of evolution into the susceptibility of women to autoimmune diseases.

    Furthermore, professor of skin molecular immunology at the University of Michigan Johann E. Gudjonsson highlighted that women have more of the molecular switch called VGLL3 in their skin compared to men. He then suggested that it may be what causes a heightened immune response in women that makes them susceptible to autoimmune diseases.


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