A new study has found that estrogen was responsible for slower wound healing in females than males. The researchers from University of California Berkeley tested this theory by causing a mild injury to the cornea layer in the eyes of mice.
They analyzed and monitored their wound healing through image analysis and the formation of a protective lipid pathway.
“To test the role of estrogen, they gave the male mice estrogen eye drops or drugs to activate specific estrogen receptors.” The researchers found that estrogen negatively affected the internal lipid circuit of two important components, 15-lipoxgenase and Lipoxin A4, which have been determined to provide a protective pathway in many diseases.
“This pathway balances the activity of pro-inflammatory signals to promote wound healing and to keep inflammation with safe ranges,” according to Science Daily.
The researchers reported that “our results demonstrated the first time a sex-specific difference in corneal reparative response ...” and, “these findings may provide novel insights into the etiology of sex-specific ocular inflammatory diseases.”
The study was published in the April edition of The FASEB Journal. The Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Gerald Weissmann, M.D., commented to Science Daily that "this study goes a long way to explaining gender differences in inflammation and its resolution.”
He went on to say, "It's long been known that women suffer more than men from chronic inflammatory diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis; this study suggests that estrogen itself is responsible for that difference and pinpoints the molecular pathways that estrogen affects.”
While it is true that diseases such as lupus have a much greater incidence in women than men by nine to one, it has yet to be determined exactly what the role estrogen has in this systemic disease.
It seems premature to apply knowledge gained from this single study on mice to understanding the immune responses of men and women in these types of diseases.