Research: Men more likely to have More Nerve damage than Women

Epub: Costello et al. Sex-specific differences in retinal nerve fiber layer thinning after acute optic neuritis. Neurology. 2012 Oct 17.

OBJECTIVE: The primary objective of this study was to explore the potential influence of gender on recovery from optic neuritis (ON) by determining whether differences in retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness can be detected between men and women 6 months after an ON event.

METHODS: In this prospective cohort study, 39 men and 105 women with acute ON underwent repeat visual and optical coherence tomography (OCT) testing. The main outcome measures were change in RNFL measurements for male and female patients 6 months after ON.

RESULTS: Men were older (mean age = 39 years) than women (35 years) (p = 0.05) in this study, and more men (62%) than women (41%) had a diagnosis of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) (p = 0.02). Because age and MS subtype were 2 significant covariates, both variables were controlled for in multiple regression analyses. Other covariates controlled for in the multivariate regression included disease duration (years), use of disease-modifying therapy (yes/no), and use of high-dose corticosteroids for acute ON (yes/no). After 6 months, mean RNFL values were lower in men (74 μm) than women (91 μm) (p < 0.001). Men showed more apparent change in RNFL thickness in their ON eyes from baseline to 6 months after ON than women (p = 0.003).

CONCLUSIONS: There may be differences in recovery between men and women after ON, which can be difficult to detect with conventional visual testing. Our findings raise interesting questions about the potential influence of gender in MS, which may be explored in future studies.

This study looks at nerve damage and loss between the sexes. In this case they look after optic neuritis and find that men have more retinal nerve fibre layer thinning, indicative of nerve loss. This study suggests that males are more likely to suffer nerve loss than females and so points at a protective effect from sex hormones. I am sure MD2 will agree with this thought that males may be more  susceptible to damage than females. Males tend to develop MS later than females but often develop progressive MS.

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