Estrogen abates flu virus in women

A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular: a flu virus in women

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The study was lead by Sabra Klein, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD, testing several forms of the sex hormone in female bodies – estrogen to figure out the association between this hormone and the development of flu virus.

We get ill when flu viruses invade our cells and then make copies of themselves. These copies spread widely to other cells, resulting in diseases and even infecting other people.

According to Professor Sabra Klein, the fewer the copies of these viruses are, the less likelihood of getting involved in diseases and infection there is.

Prof. Klein and her team worked together to test the impacts of estrogen hormone on the influenza A virus, which can easily spread among societies and cause flu epidemics. As estrogen exists in both men and women, testing was implemented in nasal cells of both of the two sex, where the virus primarily infects.

They cultured and then divided them into different forms of estrogen: estradiol – the primary platform of the female sex hormone, bisphenol – a synthetic compound which looks like estrogen and SERMs (selective estrogen receptor modulators) – compounds acting like estrogen, which are used for hormone therapy.

The research found out that estradiol, SERMs, and bisphenol A lessen the replication of flu viruses in the female nasal cells, but not in the male ones.

What’s more, it stated that the estrogen receptor beta help utilize their antiviral effects. Receptors are the “protector” proteins, which only permit the entry into molecules that do cells good.

Other researches also pointed out that the female sex hormone – estrogens also have antiviral effects on some serious infectious virus such as HIV, Ebola and hepatitis. However, there are some points that make the study by Prof. Klein different from others.

As what Prof. Klein commented, the research used primary cells which was directly isolated from patients, helping them to directly work out the sex-specific impacts of estrogens. Moreover, this is the first time there has been a study which points out the responsibility of the receptors for the antivirual effects of estrogens, enabling everyone to deeper understand the mechanisms that mediate this effect of estrogens.

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