Immune cells have sex and so should journal articles

Endocrinology. 2012 Jun;153(6):2544-50. doi: 10.1210/en.2011-2120. Epub 2012 Mar 20.


Males and females have the same immunological cells, proteins, and pathways in place to protect against the development of disease. The kinetics, magnitude, and skewing of the responses mounted against pathogens, allergens, toxins, or self-antigens, however, can differ dramatically between the sexes. Generally, females mount higher innate and adaptive immune responses than males, which can result in faster clearance of pathogens but also contributes to increased susceptibility to inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in females compared with males. Hormonal and genetic factors contribute significantly to sex differences in immune function and disease pathogenesis. In particular, the expression of X-linked genes and microRNA as well as sex steroid hormones signaling through hormone receptors in immune cells can affect responses to immunological stimuli differently in males and females. Despite data illustrating profound differences between the sexes in immune function, sex differences in the pathogenesis of disease are often overlooked in biomedical research. Establishing journal policies that require authors to report the sex of their cells, animals, and subjects will improve our understanding of the pathogenesis of diseases, with the long-term goal of personalizing treatments for immune-mediated diseases differently for males and females in an effort to protect us equally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research / methods
  • Biomedical Research / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune System / cytology
  • Immune System / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Male
  • Periodicals as Topic / standards
  • Sex Factors*