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    Female Brains More Valuable Than Males, Decrees Mother Nature
    By News Staff | January 16th 2009 12:00 AM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    Writing in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, a group of researchers found that nutrient deprivation of neurons produced sex-dependent effects. Male neurons more readily withered up and died, while female neurons did their best to conserve energy and stay alive.

    That's right, nature has declared female brains should survive with a lot less than males.   Take that, glass ceiling!

    The idea that the sexes respond differently to nutrient deprivation is not new and revolves around the male preferences to conserve protein and female preferences to conserve fat. However, these metabolic differences have really only been examined in nutrient-rich tissues like muscles, fat deposits, and the liver. 

    Robert Clark and colleagues at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center examined whether this sex-dependent response in starvation could manifest in brain cells. They grew neurons taken separately from male and female rats or mice in lab dishes and subjected them to starvation over 72 hours. 

    After 24 hours, the male neurons experienced significantly more cell dysfunction (measured by analyzing cell respiration, which decreased by over 70% in male cells compared to 50% in female cells) and death. Visually, male neurons also displayed more abundant signs of autophagy, whereby a cell breaks down its components as a fuel source, while female neurons created more lipid droplets to store fat reserves. 

    As with other cell culture studies, the researchers note these results may not be truly indicative of what happens in living animals during starvation, but it allows them to look at the neurons independent of external factors like circulating hormones.


    Article: "Starving Neurons Show Sex Difference in Autophagy" by Lina Du, Robert W. Hickey, Hülya Bayır, Simon C. Watkins, Vladimir Tyurin, Fengli Guo, Patrick M. Kochanek, Larry W. Jenkins, Jin Ren, Greg Gibson, Charleen T. Chu, Valerian E. Kagan, and Robert S. B. Clark, J. Biol. Chem..2009; 284: 2383-2396

    Comments

    this is why figures are important. 70% to 50% in rat nerves isn't significant to me. if one was slightly more dry, or even barely mishandled, or the neutrient solution wasn't stirred enough, the results are meaningless. more likely, if they didn't use hundreds of rats (rats, not just neurons), I wouldn't trust them. even what it claims to probe (the difference in metabolism of rat neurons by sex) doesn't help much - let alone weather anything even somewhat similar would happen in humans. Also, it's a drawing circles after you have the data format that I don't like. if you had a model that could be tested it's one thing, but here it's just "oh well our male rat neurons had blah blah" after it was tested. I could do the same thing by flipping coins, (well we had significantly more tails than heads in this trial of 40 flips). I guess posting a reply to something on "sumbleupon" isn't going to further my cause much, but it makes me feel better for now - like I'm doing something.
    I hate it when the title has nothing to do with what the data proves. And all it proves is that female brains are more starvation-tolerant, probably due to the fact that females are far more likely to suffer nutrient deprivation during pregnancy and breeding.

    To just say something is more valuable than other on one feature alone is ridiculous. I expected solid evidence.

    Oh, by the way: it's "nutrient deprivation"... depravation is something else.

    Hank
    Oh, by the way: it's "nutrient deprivation"... depravation is something else.
    I bet this would have gotten a lot more than 9000 readers if we were more clever that way.   Discover and Scientific American get a lot of mileage out of using phrases like lesbian necrophiliacs in their titles.
    Stellare
    You kill me, Hank! LOL
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    I understand the desire to attract readers by catchy headlines, but this is way too much. The Discover article at least supports its headline. Yours just twists the story in a way that makes no sense at all, more akin to "Being a lesbian necrophiliac is good for you, decrees mother nature".

    A decease in the number of breeding females will more likely result in a bottleneck than a similar drop in the number of males. Should there be a sharp male die-off, those remaining will be able to fertilize the "excess" females and maintain the population. A scarcity of young females would be a disaster.

    This is no way bolsters the case for more female CEOs.