Latest findings suggest that women have better protection and are better defended against the flu compared to men. Estrogen is found to help ward of the flu virus which may explain why men experience the flu worse than women. Furthermore, the findings may help create more effective flu treatments for both men and women.
Researchers conducted experiments on nasal cells from men and women where researchers found that estrogen helps minimize the flu virus’s ability to replicate. Less replication means symptoms are reduced and the risk of spreading the virus is reduced as well.
Lead investigator Sabra Klein said, “Other studies have shown that estrogens have antiviral properties against HIV, Ebola and hepatitis viruses. What makes our study unique is twofold. First, we conducted our study using primary cells directly isolated from patients, allowing us to directly identify the sex-specific effect of estrogens. Second, this is the first study to identify the estrogen receptor responsible for the antiviral effects of estrogens, bringing us closer to understanding the mechanisms mediating this conserved antiviral effect of estrogens.”
Because estrogen levels fluctuate in women the effects of the findings may be hard to witness in the genera population. Klein added, “But, premenopausal women on certain kinds of birth control or post-menopausal women on hormone replacement may be better protected during seasonal influenza epidemics.”
The findings were published in American Journal of Physiology — Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.
Also read: Flu cases in U.S. still remain low: CDC