Sex and the kidneys: current understanding and research opportunities

Nat Rev Nephrol. 2019 Dec;15(12):776-783. doi: 10.1038/s41581-019-0208-6. Epub 2019 Oct 4.


Concerns regarding sex differences are increasingly pertinent in scientific and societal arenas. Although biological sex and socio-cultural gender are increasingly recognized as important modulators of renal function under physiological and pathophysiological conditions, gaps remain in our understanding of the mechanisms underlying sex differences in renal pathophysiology, disease development, progression and management. In this Perspectives article, we discuss specific opportunities for future research aimed at addressing these knowledge gaps. Such opportunities include the development of standardized core data elements and outcomes related to sex for use in clinical studies to establish a connection between sex hormones and renal disease development or progression, development of a knowledge portal to promote fundamental understanding of physiological differences between male and female kidneys in animal models and in humans, and the creation of new or the development of existing resources and datasets to make them more readily available for interrogation of sex differences. These ideas are intended to stimulate thought and interest among the renal research community as they consider sex as a biological variable in future research projects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Kidney Diseases / etiology*
  • Kidney Diseases / physiopathology
  • Kidney Diseases / therapy
  • Male
  • Sex Characteristics*