Gender specific differences in the immune response to infection

Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz). 2011 Jun;59(3):203-13. doi: 10.1007/s00005-011-0124-3. Epub 2011 Mar 26.


There are many instances where males and females differ in the susceptibility to infections. The reason for these differences in susceptibility is multifactorial. The primary cause is thought to be due to differences induced by sex hormones and their effects on gene expression as well as the immune system, but may also be due to innate physiological differences between males and females. This review summarizes gender specific differences seen in infections caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. Ultimately, gender specific differences appear to be dependent on the microbe causing the infection, as not every infection with a specific microbial type results in increased susceptibility of one gender over the other. This suggests that there is an interaction between gender specific immune differences and the specific immune response to individual microbes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / immunology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Infections / microbiology
  • Infections / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Sex Characteristics*


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones