Glioblastomas are the most common and invasive brain tumors, and until now researchers could not identify the reason why they are more prevalent in men than in women.
A study recently published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation revealed that retinoblastoma protein, a protein associated with reduced risk of cancer, is significantly less active in the brain cells of men compared with women. Joshua Rubin, MD, PhD, of the Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and colleagues conducted their research by initially experimenting with a cell model of glioblastoma.
They exposed both male and female brain cells to genetic alterations and a tumor growth factor, which revealed that tumors grow more frequently and at a faster rate from male brain cells compared with female brain cells. Because in many cancers neurofibromin, p53, and retinoblastoma protein are typically disabled or mutated, the researchers then analyzed those genes specifically to try and determine the mechanisms behind the differences between male and female brain cells.
While studying this, they found the RB protein was significantly more likely to be inactivated in male brain cells compared with female brain cells. Beyond this, when researchers disabled the RB protein in female brain cells they found that female brain cells were equally as susceptible to cancer as male brain cells.
Because this is the first that a group has identified a gender-linked in tumor risk, Dr. Rubin and his colleagues are excited about the future implications of this research—specifically looking at the multiple pathways linked to cancer and checking for the intrinsic differences between male and female cells, which will hopefully lead to more effective treatments in the future.
In a study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, the researchers reveal that a protein associated with reduced cancer risk – retinoblastoma protein (RB) – is much less active in the brain cells of men than women. From this, the team confirmed that tumors grow faster and more frequently from male brain cells than they do from female brain cells.