About this Research Topic
Sex and gender (terms that refer respectively to the biological and socio-cultural characteristics of the individual) significantly influence both non-communicable and communicable diseases, such as infections. Women usually are more susceptible to viral infections than men, however disease outcome is worse in male than female individuals.
A paradigmatic example of this can be envisaged in the actual COVID-19 pandemic, whose severity and case fatality rate are significantly higher in male than in female patients, all over the world.
The observed disparity in the severity of viral infections between males and females is largely due to sex-differences in the innate and adaptive immune response. Females typically develop higher innate, humoral and cellular immune responses to viral infections and vaccines. At the same time, women are more prone to autoimmune diseases and experience more adverse reactions to vaccination. The main sex-specific modulators of immunity are:
i. Sex hormones, estrogens and androgens, which play opposite effects, the first immunostimulants (and undergoing variations throughout life), the second immunosuppressive;
ii. genetic and epigenetic factors related to the enrichment on the X chromosome of gene expression regulators (e.g., microRNA) and genes encoding for proteins involved in the immune response to infections (e.g., Toll-like receptors, interleukins, chemokines).
In this Research Topic we welcome authors to submit Reviews, Mini-Reviews, Original Research, Perspective, and Clinical Trial articles focusing on, but not limited to, the following subtopics:
• Role of sex hormones in the innate and adaptive immune response to viral infections
• Role of microRNA and immune-related genes expressed on the X chromosome in the regulation of anti-viral immune response
• Sex-differences in the immune response and adverse reactions to viral vaccines
• In vivo and ex vivo models to study sex disparity in antiviral immune responses and vaccines
• Sex disaggregated analysis of data about the responses to vaccination and virus infection
Knowledge of the mechanisms involved in sex disparity in the immune responses to viral infections will contribute to identify the strategy to adequately protect both sexes with the long-term goal of personalizing the therapies for males and females.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.