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Curr Top Med Chem. 2011;11(13):1668-83.

Sex steroids in autoimmune diseases.

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S. Andrea Hospital, Sapienza University of Rome, Via di Grottarossa 1035, 00199 Rome, Italy.


A sexual dysmorphism in the immune response has been described and females display an increased incidence of autoimmune diseases. Experimental data show that sex steroids influence immune cell development and have immunomodulatory effects. The distribution, the action (genomic and nongenomic), the sex and tissue-depending expression pattern of estrogen, progesterone and androgen receptors and their functional disruptions in corresponding receptor knockout animals will be discussed, pointing out the difference among sex steroid hormones. Recent advances indicate an immunomodulatory role of sex steroids in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. The outcomes of the clinical trials will help to find the best use of sex steroids in combination with current therapeutic drugs in autoimmune diseases. Sex steroid receptor modulating drugs will provide new therapeutic approaches in these pathologies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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