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Title: Sexual Dimorphism in Innate Immunity: The Role of Sex Hormones and Epigenetics.
Austin Authors: Shepherd, Rebecca;Cheung, Ada S ;Pang, Ken;Saffery, Richard;Novakovic, Boris
Affiliation: Endocrinology
Department of Adolescent Medicine, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, VIC, Australia
Medicine (University of Melbourne)
Epigenetics Group, Infection and Immunity Theme, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, VIC, Australia
Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia
Brain and Mitochondrial Research, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, VIC, Australia
Inflammation Division, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Parkville, VIC, Australia
Issue Date: 21-Jan-2021
Date: 2020
Publication information: Frontiers in Immunology 2020; 11: 604000
Abstract: Sexual dimorphism refers to differences between biological sexes that extend beyond sexual characteristics. In humans, sexual dimorphism in the immune response has been well demonstrated, with females exhibiting lower infection rates than males for a variety of bacterial, viral, and parasitic pathogens. There is also a substantially increased incidence of autoimmune disease in females compared to males. Together, these trends indicate that females have a heightened immune reactogenicity to both self and non-self-molecular patterns. However, the molecular mechanisms driving the sexually dimorphic immune response are not fully understood. The female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, as well as the male androgens, such as testosterone, elicit direct effects on the function and inflammatory capacity of immune cells. Several studies have identified a sex-specific transcriptome and methylome, independent of the well-described phenomenon of X-chromosome inactivation, suggesting that sexual dimorphism also occurs at the epigenetic level. Moreover, distinct alterations to the transcriptome and epigenetic landscape occur in synchrony with periods of hormonal change, such as puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and exogenous hormone therapy. These changes are also mirrored by changes in immune cell function. This review will outline the evidence for sex hormones and pregnancy-associated hormones as drivers of epigenetic change, and how this may contribute to the sexual dimorphism. Determining the effects of sex hormones on innate immune function is important for understanding sexually dimorphic autoimmune diseases, sex-specific responses to pathogens and vaccines, and how innate immunity is altered during periods of hormonal change (endogenous or exogenous).
DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.604000
Journal: Frontiers in Immunology
PubMed URL: 33584674
Type: Journal Article
Subjects: cross-sex hormone treatment
innate immunity
pregnancy hormones
progesterone and estradiol
sexual dimorphism
Appears in Collections:Journal articles

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