Do Microglial Sex Differences Contribute to Sex Differences in Neurodegenerative Diseases?

Trends Mol Med. 2019 Sep;25(9):741-749. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2019.05.001. Epub 2019 Jun 3.


Sex differences have been clinically documented in numerous neurodegenerative diseases and yet the reasons for these differences are not well understood. Recent studies have found that microglia, the innate immune cells of the central nervous system, are a key cell type involved in neurodegenerative diseases. This cell type displays sex differences in their expression profiles and function. Could these sex differences in microglia explain the sex differences seen in neurodegenerative diseases? How can we further probe these differences to better understand disease mechanisms? In this Opinion, we highlight the recent evidence that microglia have sex differences, factors that contribute to these differences, and how these differences could shed new light on the pathophysiology of neurological diseases.

Keywords: microglia; neurodegenerative disease; sex differences.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmunity
  • Disease Susceptibility* / immunology
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Microglia / pathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / epidemiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors