Why male kidneys are more prone to disease than female kidneys

Credit: Julien Tromeur /Unsplash

You may have heard that women usually have healthier kidneys compared to men.

This difference is important because the kidneys play a crucial role in filtering waste from our blood.

But why is that and is there anything men can do to improve their kidney health? Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) have some answers.

The role of hormones in kidney health

A study led by Professor Andy McMahon at USC found how hormones like testosterone affect kidney health in mice.

Hormones are basically chemical messengers that tell our body what to do.

In this study, supported by the National Institutes of Health, McMahon’s team found that over a thousand genes behave differently in the kidneys of male and female mice.

Most of these differences occur when mice reach puberty and become adults. These genes mainly affect the part of the kidney that filters nutrients back into the blood and helps us absorb good stuff like sugar and protein.

How testosterone makes a difference

What makes women’s kidneys stronger in general? McMahon’s team points to testosterone, the hormone that plays a big part in making men…well, masculine.

To test this idea, the researchers tried two things: they either removed the testicles of prepubertal male mice, which lowered their testosterone levels, or they removed the “antennae” in cells that respond to testosterone.

Both methods resulted in the kidneys of male mice more closely resembling those of female mice.

And guess what? Even reducing calories for three months had a similar effect as it lowered testosterone levels. Reducing caloric intake is already known to help with some types of kidney problems in mice.

To flip the switch again, all the researchers had to do was reinject testosterone into the male mice.

And it worked the other way around, too: Injecting female mice with testosterone caused their kidneys to behave more like those of males.

Human implications and next steps

The team also compared their findings to human kidneys to see if the same things are happening to us. They found some similarities, which suggests we’re on to something.

However, McMahon said more research is needed to fully understand how men and women differ in kidney health.

What does it all mean? It’s too early to say for sure, but understanding how hormones affect kidney health could lead to better treatments for both men and women in the future.

It could help close the gap between men and women when it comes to kidney problems, and could even lead to new ways to improve kidney health overall.

If kidney health is important to you, please see Studies on Drugs That Prevent Kidney Failure in Diabetes and Drinking coffee could help reduce the risk of kidney damage.

For more information on kidney health, see recent studies on Foods that can prevent kidney stones from coming backand common painkillers can damage your heart, kidneys, and more.

The research results can be found in development cell.

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Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: LauraCoffey@worldtimetodays.com.

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