Testosterone related genes could make men more vulnerable to flu

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Testosterone could be the reason men get the flu more easily then women.
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Women and men are different when it comes to their immune systems. Now researchers say high testosterone could be a reason men don't get as big a boost from the influenza vaccine as do women. The finding means the flu shot and possibly other vaccines might not work so well in some men.

Testosterone genes include vaccine effects for men

The study, led by researchers at Stanford University, suggest genes that are switched on and off by testosterone might be the reason men have lower immune responses compared to women.

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For their investigation that is published Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers looked at testosterone levels and immunity gained from the flu vaccine among 53 women and 34 men during the 2008-2009 flu season.

The finding showed women developed stronger antibodies to the flu vaccine compared to men. When the researchers looked at the reason, they discovered men express genes differently than women.

Men with poor responses to vaccine had a higher expression of clusters of genes that are metabolize fats and suggested by past studies to be controlled by testosterone. The finding suggests men's testosterone interferes with gene expression and immunity to the flu vaccine, though more studies are needed to understand the mechanism.

Source:
NIH News
Dec 23, 2013

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