"How much of the protein interferon gamma you produce decides, who gets MS and who doesn't, and especially why women develop MS more often than men,” explains Mayo Clinic neurologist Brian Weinshenker. Men get MS less often because they have a lower frequency of a gene variant that is related to higher secretion of interferon gamma.”

The Mayo Clinic research group considers MS to belong to a group of diseases known as autoimmune diseases, in which the body erroneously attacks its healthy cells as if they were disease-causing foreign invaders. With MS, the body attacks tissues of the brain and spinal cord, creating scars that impair nerve signal transmission and lead to disability.

Women and men naturally express different levels of interferon gamma. High levels of interferon gamma could intensify the MS damage processes and make the disease worse.

The Mayo Clinic research group found in analysis that interferon gamma plays a role in driving the gender bias towards women in MS susceptibility. This is especially true, if a genetic variant exists that produces high levels of a kind of interferon gamma that tends to promote inflammation and tissue damage, the hallmarks of MS. That variant is overrepresented in women compared to men and explains at least some of the excess risk of MS in women.

The Mayo Clinic group compared MS in four patient populations. "It seems as if men have a lower frequency of high secretion interferon gamma genetic variant, and that might explain why men are generally protected more from MS” says Dr. Weinshenker.

MEDICA.de; Source: Mayo Clinic