Sexual dimorphism of brain immune system

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microglia

Sex-differences in neuronal development and neuroimmunological responses  are becoming a hot topic in the neuroscience field. Importantly, the possibility that such differences might contribute to sex-specific vulnerability to diseases later in life (such as anxiety disorders and autism spectrum disorders) is starting to be tested.

 

Here a new high-impact paper on sexual dimorphism of microglial cells response to prenatal exposure to dexamethasone.

http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp2016173a.html

 

Microglial cells (the brain resident immune cells) showed different, sex-dependent morphological alterations in response to prenatal exposure to dexamethasone. Morphological alterations in males, but not females, microglia could be normalised with A2 receptor antagonist treatment. While the prenatal exposure to dexamethasone resulted in anxiety behaviour in both males and females offspring, only in the males could the A2 receptor antagonist exert anxiolytics effects.

 

Not only these results reinforce the notion that brain immune system responds differently to prenatal challenges according to sex; importantly, they also suggest that sex-specific treatments might be required for the cure of anxiety disorders.

 

Stay tuned for more papers on this topic!

 

(image credit: http://faculty.sites.uci.edu/kimgreen/)

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