Neuroimmunology and neuroepigenetics in the establishment of sex differences in the brain

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2017 Aug;18(8):471-484. doi: 10.1038/nrn.2017.61. Epub 2017 Jun 22.


The study of sex differences in the brain is a topic of neuroscientific study that has broad reaching implications for culture, society and biomedical science. Recent research in rodent models has led to dramatic shifts in our views of the mechanisms underlying the sexual differentiation of the brain. These include the surprising discoveries of a role for immune cells and inflammatory mediators in brain masculinization and a role for epigenetic suppression in brain feminization. How and to what degree these findings will translate to human brain development will be questions of central importance in future research in this field.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sex Differentiation / physiology*


  • Inflammation Mediators