New findings could help explain why MS affects more women than men

Published date: 09 May 2014 at 3:37PM

Research published this week has uncovered differences in the brains of men and women which may help to explain why around three times as many women than men develop MS.

A promising early study from the Washington University School of Medicine suggests that a protein called S1PR2 could play a role in allowing immune cells to enter the central nervous system and cause the damage that occurs in MS.

Researchers have found that the S1PR2 gene appears to be more active in women than in men, and also in regions of the brain that tend to be affected by MS. 

Dr Emma Gray, Research Communications Manager at the MS Society, said: "We don't yet fully understand why MS affects more women than men, and it's an area that's intrigued scientists, and people with MS, for many years. A number of theories have been suggested in the past, including the influence of hormones or possible genetic factors - and this study explores one such genetic factor in further detail, which is really interesting."

Understanding the causes of MS is a research priority for the MS Society in the UK and could be crucial in identifying new ways to treat the condition.”

The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and was led by Professor Robyn Klein.

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Find out more about the role of genetics in MS or check out our Genes and MS factsheet.

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