SwedenSweden

Autoimmune Disease Linked to Estrogen Deficiency

09.10.2004

Stockholm - The hormone estrogen may have a new purpose in treating or preventing certain types of autoimmune diseases, according to researchers around Jan-Ake Gustafsson from Swedish Karolinska Institute. Autoimmune disorders, like Sjogren's syndrome, are much more prevalent in women than in men.
Gustafsson and colleagues discovered that estrogen-deficient mice develop an autoimmune disease that resembles Sjogren's syndrome. To investigate the possible role of estrogen in such diseases, the researchers examined genetically engineered mice that lacked aromatase (AR-knock-out mice), an enzyme essential to estrogen synthesis in the body.
The ARKO mice showed increased production of certain immune cells, increased numbers of white blood cells in the salivary glands, renal damage, and had detectable levels of IgE auto-antibodies in their blood serum. All of these findings resembled those found clinically in human cases of Sjogren's syndrome . Furthermore, when normal mice were raised on a phyto-estrogen-free diet, they developed similar but milder symptoms.
These findings demonstrate that estrogen-deficiency may be an important factor in the development of Sjogren's syndrome. The authors suggest that estrogen may be useful in treating or preventing this disease.

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