Scientists believe that this is why men are heavier than women with coronavirus infection
Analysis of the reaction of the immune system of representatives of different sexes to infection with a new type of coronavirus showed that in women, T cells, the main “conductors” of the immune system, respond to infection much more actively. This may explain why men get coronavirus infection more often than women. Preliminary results of the study are published in the medRxiv electronic scientific library.
“We learned that the immune system of men and women reacts differently to the first phases of a coronavirus infection. In particular, the body produced the first more signaling molecules that contribute to inflammation, and women’s T cells responded much more actively to the appearance of the virus. This may explain gender differences in the nature of the course of COVID-19, “the scientists write.
Almost from the first days after the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, doctors began to notice that men are more likely to become infected with the virus and die from its effects. At first, biologists believed that this is due to the fact that men have more ACE2 receptor molecules in the lung cells that the virus uses to infect. Subsequently, the opinions of experts were divided, although most doctors continue to believe that men are indeed more susceptible to this disease.
Watching the development of coronavirus infection in two hundred patients at Yale University Hospital who got there between March and May of this year, doctors led by Professor Akiko Iwasaki found out one of the possible causes of sexual differences in the immune response to the virus.
All of those infected were hospitalized in the first phases of infection. Doctors regularly collected blood samples from them and monitored changes in the activity of cells of the immune system and the concentration of molecules produced by them, as well as the number of viral particles.
Analysis of the samples showed that the body of men and women react differently to infection. In particular, the amount of produced antibodies and various signaling substances, contributing to the development of inflammation and other protective reactions, differed. For example, in the blood of men there was more interleukin-8, one of the pro-inflammatory signals, as well as the CXCL10 and CCL5 proteins.
In the blood of women, the analysis showed more activated monocytes – “cleaner” cells that collect antigens, as well as those subtypes of T cells that these antigens use to produce antibodies. These differences were most pronounced among elderly patients and patients. This may explain why older men die from coronavirus infection more often than their peers.
Accordingly, if you stimulate the immune system of patients to produce more T-cells and increase their activity, then they will better tolerate coronavirus infection, scientists say. Iwasaki and her colleagues will soon try to figure out how to do this without putting patients at even greater risk than SARS-CoV-2 infection.
It should be added that the article was not reviewed by independent experts and editors of scientific journals, as is usually the case in such cases. Therefore, conclusions from it and similar articles should be treated with caution.