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Front. Immunol. | doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.02279

Sex Hormones in Acquired Immunity and Autoimmune Disease

  • 1Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, United States

Women have stronger immune responses to infections and vaccination than men. Paradoxically, the stronger immune response comes at a steep price, which is the high incidence of autoimmune diseases in women. The reasons why women have stronger immunity and higher incidence of autoimmunity are not clear. Besides gender, sex hormones contribute to the development and activity of the immune system, accounting for differences in gender-related immune responses. Both innate and adaptive immune systems bear receptors for sex hormones and respond to hormonal cues. This review focuses on the role of sex hormones particularly estrogen, in the adaptive immune response, in health and autoimmune disease with an emphasis on systemic lupus erythematosus.

Keywords: Hormones, immune response, autoimmune disease, estrogen, SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus)

Received: 16 Jul 2018; Accepted: 13 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

Virginia Rider, Pittsburg State University, United States

Reviewed by:

Antonio La Cava, University of California, Los Angeles, United States
Antonio Martocchia, Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, Italy  

Copyright: © 2018 Moulton. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Vaishali R. Moulton, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States, vmoulton@bidmc.harvard.edu