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Women Portray Stronger Immune Response As Compared to Men, Study Suggests

Stronger Immune response in women could be the reason why isolated women are less vulnerable to falling ill and death as compared to men, says a study// .

The study is an eye-opener to the upcoming proof that there exist health differences in men and women and perhaps holds a clue to the reason why socially isolated men are prone to disease, as compared to isolated women.

Previous studies have shown a connection between stress and immune function. But this study observed the effects of chronic stress from three months of isolation (the equivalent of chronic social stress) with a single 30-minute episode of severe physical stress. This was tested on male and female rats. The effect on the inflammatory response was gauged, and the authors found that upon two to three weeks of isolation and one instance of acute physical stress, male rats showed a significantly slower healing pattern, when injected with a foreign body as compared to female rats.

This finding is extremely important because the inflammatory response is nothing but the immune response which is crucial for the healing of many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and infectious disease, said senior author Martha McClintock, director of the Institute for Mind and Biology at the University of Chicago.

It is still unclear as to the reason for faster healing in females under stress rather than in male under stress, but the authors said it may be a protection that evolved in the context of females protecting their offspring.

To quote the paper,” While lactating, maternal rats become highly aggressive toward intruders and predators and are at high risk for wounding, particularly from neck bites that puncture the skin where the foreign substance was induced , Stress-induced facilitation of the inflammatory response in threatened maternal rats would promote their healing and survival, with obvious benefit to her dependent offspring."

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