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Study suggests sex-based approach to treat COVID-19

Key differences in immune capabilities of men, women during early phase of COVID-19 infection, study says

Gozde Bayar   | 27.08.2020
Study suggests sex-based approach to treat COVID-19


A new study has suggested the development of a sex-based approach to treat the novel coronavirus.

The study published in the monthly Nature Medicine journal examined viral loads, COVID-19 specific antibody titers, plasma cytokines and blood cell phenotyping in COVID-19 patients, both men and women.

It was found that male patients had higher plasma levels of innate immune inflammation-causing proteins known as cytokines.

“Conversely, higher innate immune cytokines in female patients associated with worse disease progression, but not in male patients,” the study said.

The study, Sex Differences in Immune Responses that Underlie COVID-19 Disease Outcomes said female patients mounted significantly more robust immune cells known as T cell activation than male patients during COVID-19 infection, which was sustained in old age.

It added that a poor T cell response negatively correlated with patients’ age and was associated with worse disease outcomes in male patients.

Based on the data, the study underlined that there are key differences in immune capabilities in men and women during the early phase of COVID-19 infection.

“These analyses also provide a potential basis for taking sex-dependent approaches to prognosis, prevention, care, and therapy for patient with COVID-19,” it said.

The data suggested that vaccines and therapies to elevate T cell immune response to COVID-19 might be warranted for male patients, while female patients might benefit from therapies that dampen innate immune activation early during disease.

Since it originated in China last December, the coronavirus has claimed nearly 826,000 lives in 188 countries and regions. The US, Brazil, India, and Russia are currently the worst-hit countries.

Over 24.18 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries exceeded 15.79 million, according to figures compiled by the US' Johns Hopkins University.

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