Do Female Hormones Protect the Kidney?

Two new studies point to interesting evidence that female hormones may protect women’s kidneys from damage, suggesting novel gender-based avenues to safeguard kidney health for women and men.

Research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that female hormones may provide greater resistance to kidney damage following a kidney transplant. The scientists found that even when female mice received male kidneys, they experienced a lower occurrence of ischemia reperfusion injury (IRI)—tissue damage caused by the stop and start of blood flow to the kidney—suggesting that hormonal environment is at play. Female mice treated with estrogen showed even greater resistance to injury than untreated females. Review of human data also showed lower occurrence of IRI in women.


Researchers Find Females More Resistant to Organ Damage Following Kidney Transplant, Medical Xpress, April 18, 2016

Scientists from Austria’s Medical University of Innsbruck set out to discover whether monthly hormone changes related to menstruation affect the health of kidney cells (specifically, proximal tubular cells). Studying urine samples from unmedicated naturally ovulating women, postmenopausal women, and men, they detected an increase in enzymes related to renal health in samples from the first group. The increase could indicate a higher rate of kidney cell turnover, resulting in greater repair ability and resistance to kidney damage. According to study author, Judith Lechner, Ph.D., changes in women’s hormone levels “…might be involved in periodic tissue re-modeling not only in reproductive organs, but to a certain extent in the kidneys as well.”


Female Hormones May Make Women Less Susceptible to Kidney Failure Than Men, EurekAlert, April 28, 2016

Sex Differences in Renal Proximal Tubular Cell Homeostasis, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, April 28, 2016

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