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A virus infects and causes sickness by entering a cell and making copies of itself inside the host cell. When released from infected cells, the virus can spread through the body and between people. How much a virus has replicated determines its severity. Less replication of the virus means the infected person may experience less disease or is less likely to spread the disease to someone else, says Sabra Klein, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University and lead investigator of the study.

To examine how estrogen affected the flu virus's ability to replicate, the research team gathered nasal cells -- the cell type that the flu virus primarily infects -- from male and female donors. The researchers exposed the cell cultures to the virus, estrogen, the environmental estrogen bisphenol A and selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM), which are compounds that act like estrogen that are used for hormone therapy.

The researchers found that estrogen, SERM compound raloxifene and bisphenol A reduced flu virus replication in nasal cells from women but not men. They also observed that the estrogens initiated their antiviral effects through estrogen receptor beta. Receptors are protein structures that molecules bind with to induce cells to respond.

Read More: Sciencedaily

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