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Differences of H7N9 infection in men and women – healing practice



H7N9 avian influenza: gender differences in disease progression

Nearly 20 years ago, the presence of a low pathogenic species for birds was first reported bird flu virus A (H7N9) to people reported. Since then, thousands of people around the world have been infected with this pathogen. Researchers now report that such infections gender differences in the disease progression are.

An international research team has shown for the first time that infection with the H7N9 avian influenza virus attacks the hormonal axis in men but not in women. And low testosterone levels are associated with the development of serious, even fatal, disease in men. The results of the study were published in the journal “Nature Communication“published.

More infections in men

As in a Message from the Leibniz Institute of Virology (LIV), avian influenza viruses of the H7N9 subtype (H7N9 avian influenza virus) are characterized by a high epidemic and pandemic potential.

In March 2013, H7N9 avian influenza viruses for the first time species barriers jumped and passed from birds to humans. Men were more often affected than women. During the five epidemic waves that followed, the incidence of H7N9 was higher in men than in women.

To decipher the mechanisms behind these gender differences, an interdisciplinary team from LIV in Hamburg, the Chinese National Influenza Center of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) and the School of Public Health (Shenzhen), Sun Yat-sen Data academics of patients with a confirmed laboratory H7N9 infection and compared them to H7N9-negative close contacts and people with seasonal flu.

H7N9 Infection Causes Low Testosterone Levels

The researchers show that the H7N9 infection specifically attacks the hormonal axis in men, but not in women. In men, H7N9 infection results in low testosterone levels, associated with fatal outcome correlated.

In contrast, seasonal influenza H1N1 or H3N2 did not have a significant impact on the hormonal axis in patients.

In mouse models, scientists confirm the causal relationship between H7N9 infection and testosterone deficiency at men’s. They also show that the H7N9 avian influenza virus replicates in mouse testes and causes local and systemic inflammation, likely affecting testosterone production.

Avian influenza viruses continue to require high vigilance

According to experts, very little is known about the molecular mechanisms that lead to gender specific Disease progression in respiratory virus infections.

The current study could serve as a model for studying gender differences in other respiratory infections including SARS-CoV-2 as seen in the current pandemic.

“Avian influenza viruses continue to pose a high risk of epidemic and pandemic. The 2021/2022 season was the most important bird flu outbreakregistered worldwide including Europe”explains Professor Gülşah Gabriel, head of the LIV Viral Zoonoses – One Health research unit and professor at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover.

Thus, according to the researcher, understanding the molecular mechanismswhich reflect the sex-specific course of the disease, are of crucial importance for the individual management of patients.

“Strict surveillance and mass vaccination of poultry have so far prevented the spread of the H7N9 virus to humans. But bird flu viruses evolve and require high levels vigilance, said Professor Yuelong Shu, former director of the Chinese National Influenza Center at the Chinese CDC. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


  • Leibniz Institute of Virology (LIV): H7N9 Avian Influenza in Humans: Gender Differences in Disease, (accessed: November 16, 2022), Leibniz Institute of Virology (LIV)
  • Tian Bai, Yongkun Chen, Sebastian Beck, Stephanie Stanelle-Bertram, Nancy Kouassi Mounogou, Tao Chen, Jie Dong, Bettina Schneider, Tingting Jia, Jing Yang, Lijie Wang, Andreas Meinhardt, Antonia Zapf, Lothar Kreienbrock, Dayan Wang, Yuelong Shu & Gülsah Gabriel: H7N9 avian influenza virus infection in men is associated with testosterone depletion; in: Nature Communications, (published: 2022-11-14), Nature Communication

Important Note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.

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