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Women’s Immune Systems Remain Youthful For Longer, Study

Women’s immune systems age more slowly than men’s, says a new study from Japan.

| May 20, 2013 | Health

AsianScientist (May 20, 2013) - Women's immune systems age more slowly than men's, according to a new study from Japan published in the journal Immunity & Ageing.

Researchers from the Tokyo Medical & Dental University in Japan analyzed the blood of healthy Japanese volunteers ranging in age between 20 and 90 years old.

In both sexes, the total number of white blood cells per person decreased with age. While the number of neutrophils decreased for both sexes, the number of lymphocytes decreased in men and increased in women. Younger men generally have higher levels of lymphocytes than similarly aged women, and so as aging happens, the number of lymphocytes becomes comparable.

Looking into more detail at the different types of white blood cells, it became apparent that the rate in decline in T cells and B cells was slower for women than men. Both CD4+ T cells and NK cells increased with age, and the rate of increase was higher in women than men. Similarly, an age-related decline in IL-6 and IL-10 (proteins called cytokines that are involved in the immune response) was worse in men.

There was also a age-dependent decrease in red blood cells for men but not women, the study found.

This difference in the aging of immune systems between men and women is one of many processes which alter as we grow older, says lead author Prof. Katsuiku Hirokawa from the Tokyo Medical & Dental University Open Laboratory. The slower decline in a woman's immune system may contribute to women living longer than men, his research team speculates.

"The process of aging is different for men and women for many reasons. Women have more estrogen than men which seems to protect them from cardiovascular disease until menopause. Sex hormones also affect the immune system, especially certain types of lymphocytes. Because people age at different rates a person's immunological parameters could be used to provide an indication of their true biological age," Prof. Hirokawa said.

The article can be found at: Hirokawa K et al. (2013) Slower immune system ageing in women versus men in the Japanese population.


Source: BioMed Central; Photo: fechi fajardo/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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