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In the battle of the sexes, women are better able to recover from kidney damage than men, but the reasons are unclear
A study led by researchers at Duke University Health Center offers some insight: It turns out that women have an advantage at the molecular level that protects them from a type of cell death
that occurs in injured kidneys.
This protection can be used as a potential treatment
The findings were published Nov.
the journal Cell Reports.
Tomokazu Souma, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, said: "Kidney disease afflicts more than 850 million people worldwide each year, so it's important to
understand why women's kidneys are better protected from these acute and chronic injuries.
Our research is a step towards identifying the cause and shows that this resilience in women can be used in treatments to improve kidney repair
in both sexes.
Souma and his colleagues conducted studies in mice, focusing on a recently discovered form of
cell death called iron prolapse.
This form of cell death relies on iron and oxidative stress
It is considered a key factor in
Through genetic and single-cell RNA transcriptome analysis in mice, the researchers found that women provided significant protection against
iron droop through a special pathway called nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2).
In women, NRF2 is highly active, controlling cell death
However, in men, the sex hormone testosterone reduces the activity of NRF2, which promotes iron sagging in kidney damage, disrupting the elasticity
Further experiments showed that chemical activation of NRF2 could protect male kidney cells from iron prolapse, suggesting that NRF2 may be a potential therapeutic target for preventing renal repair failure after acute kidney injury
"By identifying the mechanisms by which female hormonal environmental protection and male hormonal environment exacerbate acute and chronic kidney damage, we believe there is great potential to improve kidney resilience
," Souma said.