Sex Hormones and Autoimmunity

Immunol Lett. 2010 Sep 6;133(1):6-13. doi: 10.1016/j.imlet.2010.07.001. Epub 2010 Jul 14.

Abstract

Autoimmune diseases occur more in women than in men, and this may be attributable to the role of estrogens. Androgens promote autoimmune diseases with a profile of type 1 cytokines, such as rheumatoid arthritis, whereas estrogens promote autoimmune diseases with a type 2 cytokine profile, like systemic lupus erythematosus. Both androgens and estrogens regulate the Th1/Th2 balance. Type 1 autoimmune diseases are improved when decrease type 1 cytokines (i.e. during fasting), or when there is a rise in type 2 cytokines (increased estrogens, as in pregnancy). Type 2 autoimmune diseases improve when type 2 cytokines are diminished (decreased estrogen, as in post-partum period) or when type 1 response is stimulated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / immunology
  • Androgens / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / epidemiology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Autoimmunity
  • Estrogens / immunology
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / epidemiology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy / immunology
  • Sex Factors
  • Th1-Th2 Balance*

Substances

  • Androgens
  • Estrogens