The X chromosome in immune functions: when a chromosome makes the difference

Nat Rev Immunol. 2010 Aug;10(8):594-604. doi: 10.1038/nri2815.


In response to various immune challenges, females show better survival than males; the X chromosome has an important role in this immunological advantage. X chromosome-linked diseases are usually restricted to males, who have only one copy of the X chromosome; however, females are more prone to autoimmune diseases, and the X chromosome may be involved in the breakdown of self tolerance. Several hypotheses have been proposed in recent years that support a role for the X chromosome in shaping autoimmune responses. Here, we review the main mechanisms responsible for increased immune activity in females. This provides a survival advantage in the face of pathogenic insult but can also enhance the susceptibility of females to autoimmunity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Human, X / genetics*
  • Communicable Diseases / genetics
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors