It is becoming increasingly clear that endogenous sex steroids are key players in a range of inflammatory contexts. Androgens and estrogens have been shown to have a profound influence on the function of inflammatory cells including macrophages and on the secretion and activation of a range of plasma-borne inflammatory mediators. The menopause and polymorphisms in estrogen receptor genes have separately been shown to affect the incidence of a range of inflammatory disorders. Sex steroids themselves have been shown to be protective in certain conditions; harmful in others. This review will summarize their documented effects on inflammatory processes, with particular focus on two areas that have received much recent attention: the antiatherosclerotic properties of estrogens in females and the wound healing effects of sex steroids.
2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.