While diabetes is no longer a death sentence (thanks to the development of insulin therapies), diabetics are still subject to a large host of health problems as a result of their condition. One of these issues is the issue of diabetic nephropathy, damage that occurs to the kidneys.
This is your kidney:
Kidneys are some extremely important things. They are the big filtration system for your blood. Every time your blood goes through the kidneys, it is carefully filtered, as the first step in the formation of urine.
Now, this is your GLOMERULUS. Glomeruli are little tufts of blood vessels (capillaries, actually) that are the first step in filtering your blood in your kidney.
Each of these little glomeruli are connected with a stalk to the main body. When people with diabetes suffer from nephropathy, the stalks connecting the glomeruli expand, scarring and cutting off the blood supply to the glomeruli, and creating problems with kidney function.
And now we come to the difference between men and women. When it comes to most kidney problems, women get PROTECTED. The hypothesis is that estrogens may be protective against problems in the kidney. But in diabetes, the odds are against us, with women getting kidney problems just as much as men, and it appears that estrogen receptors in the kidney may hurt rather than help.
And this is where we get into studies of Estrogen receptors...and their many, many splice variants.
Irsik et al. "Protein levels of Estrogen Receptor αlpha splice variants are
augmented in non-reproductive organs" Nebraska Medical Center, presented at Experimental Biology, 2011.
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