Estrogen and the cystic fibrosis gender gap

Steroids. 2014 Mar;81:4-8. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2013.11.023. Epub 2013 Dec 14.


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most frequent inherited disease in Caucasian populations and is due to a defect in the expression or activity of a chloride channel encoded by the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. Mutations in this gene affect organs with exocrine functions and the main cause of morbidity and mortality for CF patients is the lung pathology in which the defect in CFTR decreases chloride secretion, lowering the airway surface liquid height and increasing mucus viscosity. The compromised ASL dynamics leads to a favorable environment for bacterial proliferation and sustained inflammation resulting in epithelial lung tissue injury, fibrosis and remodeling. In CF, there exist a difference in lung pathology between men and women that is termed the "CF gender gap". Recent studies have shown the prominent role of the most potent form of estrogen, 17β-estradiol in exacerbating lung function in CF females and here, we review the role of this hormone in the CF gender dichotomy.

Keywords: CF gender gap; Cystic fibrosis; Estrogen.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Cystic Fibrosis / epidemiology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / genetics
  • Cystic Fibrosis / metabolism*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / genetics*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estradiol / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Male
  • Sex Factors


  • CFTR protein, human
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator
  • Estradiol