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Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2009 Jan 1;14:4477-515.

Gender and sex hormones in multiple sclerosis pathology and therapy.

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INSERM UMR S 546, Paris, F-75013 France.


Several lines of evidence indicate that gender affects the susceptibility and course of multiple sclerosis (MS) with a higher disease prevalence and overall better prognosis in women than men. This sex dimorphism may be explained by sex chromosome effects and effects of sex steroid hormones on the immune system, blood brain barrier or parenchymal central nervous system (CNS) cells. The well known improvement in disease during late pregnancy has also been linked to hormonal changes and has stimulated recent clinical studies to determine the efficacy of and tolerance to sex steroid therapeutic approaches. Both clinical and experimental studies indicate that sex steroid supplementation may be beneficial for MS. This could be related to anti-inflammatory actions on the immune system or CNS and to direct neuroprotective properties. Here, clinical and experimental data are reviewed with respect to the effects of sex hormones or gender in the pathology or therapy of MS or its rodent disease models. The different cellular targets as well as some molecular mechanisms likely involved are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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