The medical community has long been aware that oxygen deprivation before and during birth causes worse brain damage in boys than girls, but the reasons why have proved elusive. A recent study provides exciting insight into the differences between female and male brain neurons after oxygen deprivation, or hypoxia.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center recently studied the brain’s response to damage caused by hypoxia in male and female newborn mice. Not only is there a difference in how each gender attempts to repair brain tissue, but the cells die in a gender-distinct manner, too.
When brain cells are deprived of oxygen they rapidly release brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), regardless of gender. However, female brain cells had much higher levels of two particular BDNF receptors. These receptors seem to organize the death of oxygen-deprived brain cells in a way that prevents damage to neighboring cells. The cell death appears almost systematic, or programmed.
Male brain cells died more chaotically, often causing neighboring cells to also die or suffer profound damage. Cogently, physicians believe that these differences call for gender-specific therapy following infant hypoxia.
Plenty of further research is needed, but the discovery will likely prove valuable in minimizing the damage of infant hypoxia down the road.
McKeen & Associates, PC, is a Michigan-based medical malpractice firm dedicating much of its practice to birth injury cases. Nationally prominent, McKeen & Associates has the ability and resources to represent clients anywhere in the United States.
Source: Science Daily, “Sex-Specific Patterns Of Recovery From Newborn Brain Injury Revealed By Animal Study,” Johns Hopkins Medicine, Jan. 30, 2014