Brain Cells Show Gender Difference

They die differently after brain injuries, may need different treatments, study says

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TUESDAY, May 4, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Injured brain cells die differently in females and males, and that means the two genders may need different treatments for brain injuries, says a Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh study.

In research with animals, the researchers found that levels of glutathione, a molecule that protects brain cells from death when they're deprived of oxygen, remain constant in females who've suffered a brain injury. But in males with the same kind of injury, levels of glutathione drop by as much as 80 percent. Brain cells die much more quickly when there's a drop in glutathione levels.

"There is a built-in difference at the brain cell level between males and females," principal investigator Dr. Robert Clark, of Children's Hospital, said in a prepared statement.

"Injured brain cells may eventually die, but they take different pathways to get there in males and females. This means that we may need to develop or use gender-specific therapies for brain injury from any cause," Clark said.

The study was presented May 1 at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting in San Francisco.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about head injuries.

SOURCE: Pediatric Academic Societies, news release, May 1, 2004

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