Sex differences in neuroimmunity and pain

J Neurosci Res. 2017 Jan 2;95(1-2):500-508. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23831.


Differences in the prevalence of chronic pain in women vs. men are well known, and decades of laboratory experimentation have demonstrated that women are more sensitive to pain than are men. Attention has thus shifted to investigating mechanisms underlying such differences. Recent evidence suggests that neuroimmune modulation of pain may represent an important cause of sex differences. The current Review examines the evidence for gonadal hormone modulation of the immune system, immune system modulation of pain, and interactions that might help to explain sex differences in pain. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: IL-1β; IL-6; T cells; TNF-α; estrogen; immune system; inflammation; macrophages; microglia; pain; progesterone; sex differences; testosterone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Encephalitis / immunology*
  • Encephalitis / metabolism
  • Encephalitis / physiopathology
  • Gonadal Hormones / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Pain / immunology*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Sex Characteristics*


  • Gonadal Hormones