Male mice are slower than their female counterparts when it comes to reacting to the malarial parasite, a study has found.
This could reflect the response to the parasite in humans and explain why more men develop malaria disease when infected. Scientists from the TIFR had injected the malaria parasite into the bodies of 18 adult mice and studied the reaction.
They found clear sexual dimorphism – difference in the way the male and female animals respond to the infection.
The research was published in the April 2010 edition of Malaria Journal, an online international journal that publishes papers on the mosquito-borne disease.
Since all manifestations of malaria are associated with drastic alterations in the metabolism of the patient, researchers analysed the urine of the mice before and several times after the injection as the disease progressed. The body secretes certain chemicals in the urine and these always change when one is sick.
The researchers found that the metabolic profile of the urine of female mice was altered within the first few days after exposure to the parasite whereas there was no change in the urine of male mice. It was only when the disease progressed that the urine of male mice showed the variations.
“It shows that female mice are better able to maintain status quo (homeostasis) in the blood for efficient management of the disease,” said Professor Haripalsingh Sonawat, who led the research team.
Dr Shobhona Sharma, a malaria expert who was also part of the research, said that the difference was because in females, the body’s compensatory mechanism kicks in faster. “This probably explains why female bodies can tackle the parasite better and why men are more susceptible to the disease,” she said.
H1N1 claims one more victim
Swine flu claimed another life. A 51-year-old woman from Andheri succumbed to H1N1-related complications at a private hospital on Friday. This takes the city’s swine flu death toll to 19 since May.
She had been admitted to the hospital on July 12, according to civic records. 16 more tested positive for HINI on Saturday. At least 599 people were hospitalised with various monsoon-related ailments between Friday and Saturday. Of these patients, 176 had malaria, 346 had fever, 71 had gastroenteritis, two had leptospirosis and four dengue.