Scientists studied the sex-based differences in the intestinal barrier function and gut microbiome of 23 volunteers administered indomethacin (NSAID most commonly prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis and gout). At baseline, healthy women showed lower intestinal permeability and higher microbial diversity than healthy men. While indomethacin increased intestinal permeability in both sexes, only women experienced decreased diversity in fecal bacteria. While the microbiome and intestinal permeability returned to baseline 4 to 6 weeks after NSAID administration in both males and females, researchers conclude that women have a lower intestinal permeability, higher microbial diversity, and a less stable microbiome than men. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
→Takeaway: While this study looked at only 23 participants and touts some profound conclusions, it’s interesting to consider gender-based differences in the gut microbiome – and if any differences actually exist. In 2015, uBiome, one of the first companies to collect microbial data from the general population, found that based on their gut database, no statistically significant differences exist between the composition of the male and female gut microbiome. Yet many studies have concluded that sex-based differences in gut microbial composition do indeed exist (some of the differences are due to the fact that the same diet affects the male and female microbiome differently) and these differences could be the determining factor in why so many more women than men suffer from autoimmune disease.