Magazine article Science News

Female Stem Cells Flourish: Sex Difference Could Affect Therapies

Magazine article Science News

Female Stem Cells Flourish: Sex Difference Could Affect Therapies

Article excerpt

When it comes to stem cells, sex matters. Muscle stem cells taken from female mice repair damaged tissues better than male stem cells do, according to a new study.

It's the first demonstration that the regenerative abilities of stem cells depend on their sex. Currently, researchers don't typically document whether the cell lines that they study came from males or females.

"[Scientists] could have biased results if they're only looking at one gender of the cells," says Bridget M. Deasy of the University of Pittsburgh.

She and her colleagues began looking into the role of gender in stem cell performance after they realized that the cell lines that they had been using for years, which they had chosen because those cells regenerated well, were all female. "We really were unaware of it," she says.

To isolate the influence of the cells' sex, Deasy and her colleagues cultivated stem cell lines derived from the healthy muscle tissue of 15 female and 10 male mice. Unlike more-controversial embryonic stem cells, muscle stem cells come from adult animals' tissues and can be extracted without killing the animal.

The researchers implanted the muscle stem cells into mice that had a condition similar to human muscular dystrophy. Two weeks later, the team counted the healthy muscle fibers generated by the stem cells. …

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