Lorenzini foundation Centro studi Lorenzini foundation Centro studi



The cells of women are stronger and survive more than the cells of men under environmental stress and medication. This aspect was highlighted by the studies conducted by the Italian National Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità – ISS) and presented during the meeting “Gender Health”, held in Rome on the 8 of June, 2010). Human cells in men and women are different not only in the chromosomes but also for their fate. If male cells (XY) have a stereotypical behavior, because they cannot fit under environmental stress and drug and evolve towards cell death (apoptosis), those of women have a greater plasticity and can adapt better. In particular: i) a different “basal” redox state ii) a different susceptibility to stress iii) this susceptibility appears associated with a different fate: “male cells” appear more “apoptotic-prone” whereas “female cells” survive better and appear more “autophagy-prone” cells (Blood 2008; 111:4559-4570; Oncology 2002; 16:217; J Int Med 2000; 248:171; Br J canc 2001; 85:473). "They can refocus - says Stefano Vella, Director of the Department of Drug of the Italian National Institute of Health - and change shape without losing their vitality and energy. In order not to die, they do a kind of cannibalism, eating some of their components to obtain energy to survive”. "All this shows”, adds Monica Bettoni, General Director of the Italian National Institute of Health, "that scientific research results obtained in man cannot be automatically transferred to woman. Male cells evolve towards a programmed death, while women’s evolve towards aging. Another example of gender differences, it is revealed by the fact that adverse drug reactions contribute to the 6% of hospitalizations”. Based on this, the Italian National Institute of Health in 2009 began a study together with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Prevention (Istituto Superiore Prevenzione e Sicurezza sul Lavoro - ISPESL), the National Agency for Regional Sanitary Services (Agenzia Nazionale per i Servizi Sanitari Regionali – AGE.NA.S.), the Istituto Dermatologico San Gallicano I.R.C.C.S. and the I.R.C.C.S. San Raffaele Pisana (Rome), the Interuniversity Consortium with over 500 researchers on five different lines of research: metabolic diseases and women’s health, sex hormones as determinants of gender in the immune response, endocrine disruptors in the work place, iatrogenic disease and adverse reactions to drugs and the determinants of health woman.
Take home message: Cells have a sex! It is important To develop a gender cytology for the studies on the pathogenesis of the diseases as well as for pharmacological and toxicological studies.