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Study reveals one reason brain tumors are more common in men
Date:8/1/2014

he sexes.

However, Rubin and his colleagues knew that sex hormones could not account for the differences in brain tumor risk.

"Male brain tumor risk remains higher throughout life despite major age-linked shifts in sex hormone production in males and females," he said. "If the sex hormones were causing this effect, we'd see major changes in the relative rates of brain tumors in males and females at puberty. But they don't happen then or later in life when menopause changes female sex hormone production."

Rubin used a cell model of glioblastoma to prove it is easier to make male brain cells become tumors. After a series of genetic alterations and exposure to a growth factor, male brain cells became cancerous faster and more often than female brain cells.

In experiments designed to identify the reasons for the differences in the male and female cells, the team evaluated three genes to see if they were naturally less active in male brain cells. The genes they studied neurofibromin, p53 and RB normally suppress cell division and cell survival. They are mutated and disabled in many cancers.

The scientists found RB was more likely to be inactivated in male brain cells than in female brain cells. When they disabled the RB protein in female brain cells, the cells were equally susceptible to becoming cancers.

"There are other types of tumors that occur at different rates based on sex, such as some liver cancers, which occur more often in males," Rubin said. "Knowing more about why cancer rates differ between males and females will help us understand basic mechanisms in cancer, seek more effective therapies and perform more informative clinical trials."


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Contact: Michael C. Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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