In a study from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing and elsewhere, scientists found the effect of medicines on women and men can differ significantly.
This also applies to the currently most promising anti-aging drug rapamycin.
They reported that the drug only prolongs the lifespan of female fruit flies, but not that of males.
In addition, rapamycin only slowed the development of age-related pathological changes in the gut in female flies.
The researchers conclude that biological sex is a crucial factor in the effectiveness of anti-aging drugs.
The life expectancy of women is much higher than that of men. However, women also suffer more often from age-related diseases and adverse drug reactions.
In the study, the team gave the anti-aging drug rapamycin to male and female fruit flies to study the effect on the different sexes.
Rapamycin is a cell growth inhibitor and immune regulator that is normally used in cancer therapy and after organ transplantations.
They found that rapamycin extended the lifespan and slowed age-related intestinal pathologies in female flies but not in males.
The researchers found that rapamycin increased autophagy—the cell’s waste disposal process—in the female intestinal cells.
Male intestinal cells, however, already seem to have a high basal autophagy activity, which cannot be further increased by rapamycin. The scientists could also see this effect of rapamycin in mice.
The team also found female mice showed increased autophagy activity after treatment with rapamycin.
Previous studies showed that females had greater responses to rapamycin on lifespan extension than did males in mice.
This study uncovers an underlying mechanism of these differences using flies.
The researchers say sex can be a decisive factor in the effectiveness of anti-aging drugs.
Understanding the processes that are sex-specific and determining responses to therapeutics will improve the development of personalized treatments.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about the leading cause of multiple sclerosis, and results showing an inexpensive, readily available drug that may treat COVID-19.
The study was conducted by Yu-Xuan Lu et al and published in Nature Aging.
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