Sex differences in Parkinson's disease

Front Neuroendocrinol. 2014 Aug;35(3):370-84. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2014.02.002. Epub 2014 Mar 4.


Parkinson's disease (PD) displays a greater prevalence and earlier age at onset in men. This review addresses the concept that sex differences in PD are determined, largely, by biological sex differences in the NSDA system which, in turn, arise from hormonal, genetic and environmental influences. Current therapies for PD rely on dopamine replacement strategies to treat symptoms, and there is an urgent, unmet need for disease modifying agents. As a significant degree of neuroprotection against the early stages of clinical or experimental PD is seen, respectively, in human and rodent females compared with males, a better understanding of brain sex dimorphisms in the intact and injured NSDA system will shed light on mechanisms which have the potential to delay, or even halt, the progression of PD. Available evidence suggests that sex-specific, hormone-based therapeutic agents hold particular promise for developing treatments with optimal efficacy in men and women.

Keywords: Neuroprotection; Nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathways; Parkinson’s disease; Sex differences; Sex hormones.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dopamine / therapeutic use*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Substantia Nigra / drug effects


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Dopamine