Sex differences in autoimmune disease

Lupus. 2006;15(11):753-6. doi: 10.1177/0961203306069353.


Female/male ratios of autoimmune diseases range from 10:1 to 1:3, with similar severity between the sexes. Men and women respond similarly to the infection and to vaccination, arguing against intrinsic sex differences in immune response. In autoimmune-like illnesses caused by environmental agents sex discrepancy is explained by differences in exposure. Endogenous hormones could cause sex discrepancy if their effect is a threshold off-on switch rather than quantitatively variable. X-inactivation and imprinting could cause sex discrepancy. Other possibilities include chronobiologic differences and pregnancy and menstruation biologies in which men differ from women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / immunology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones