Study Led By Pelin Cengiz, MD, Examines Why Female Newborns are Better Protected from Brain Injury

The Waisman Center lab of Pelin Cengiz, MD, published a study in the journal eNeuro focusing on why male infants are more vulnerable to hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a deprivation of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood caused by pregnancy or birth complications that can lead to learning disabilities, cerebral palsy or even death.

The research team showed that a particular protein, estrogen receptor α (ERα), found in the brains of both male and female mice, is present at higher levels in females, thereby offering them stronger protection against HIE. Better understanding this difference is a first step toward helping newborns of both sexes recover from HIE and live functional lives. It could also lead to more effective therapies and treatments for both genders.

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