Why are women predisposed to autoimmune rheumatic diseases?

Arthritis Res Ther. 2009;11(5):252. doi: 10.1186/ar2825. Epub 2009 Oct 26.


The majority of autoimmune diseases predominate in females. In searching for an explanation for this female excess, most attention has focused on hormonal changes--both exogenous changes (for example, oral contraceptive pill) and fluctuations in endogenous hormone levels particularly related to menstruation and pregnancy history. Other reasons include genetic differences, both direct (influence of genes on sex chromosomes) and indirect (such as microchimerism), as well as gender differences in lifestyle factors. These will all be reviewed, focusing on the major autoimmune connective tissue disorders: rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and scleroderma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy / immunology
  • Rheumatic Diseases / genetics*
  • Rheumatic Diseases / metabolism*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones