By studying mice, scientists have advanced their understanding of why men suffer from severe psoriasis more than women.
A study at Kyoto University, Japan, the University Hospital Essen, Germany, and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore, has shown that the female hormone estradiol, produced by the ovaries, can control the painful skin condition by reducing skin inflammation.
The researchers, using transgenic mice and human cells, showed how estradiol binds in groups of immune cells – called macrophages and neutrophils – and supresses the production of the molecules that cause inflammation.
The protective role of estradiol against psoriasis now provides a basis for searching for future treatments.
"Our results have not only revealed the molecular mechanisms of sex differences in psoriasis, but also shed new light on our understanding of the physiological role of estradiol," said study co-author Tetsuya Honda. World Psoriasis Day will take place this Saturday, 29 October.