Males of many species are more susceptible than females to infections caused by parasites, fungi, bacteria, and viruses. One proximate cause of sex differences in infection is differences in endocrine-immune interactions. Specifically, males may be more susceptible to infection than females because sex steroids, specifically androgens in males and estrogens in females, modulate several aspects of host immunity. It is, however, becoming increasingly more apparent that in addition to affecting host immunity, sex steroid hormones alter genes and behaviors that influence susceptibility and resistance to infection. Thus, males may be more susceptible to infection than females not only because androgens reduce immunocompetence, but because sex steroid hormones affect disease resistance genes and behaviors that make males more susceptible to infection. Consideration of the cumulative effects of sex steroid hormones on susceptibility to infection may serve to clarify current discrepancies in the literature and offer alternative hypotheses to the view that sex steroid hormones only alter susceptibility to infection via changes in host immune function. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.
- Testostero ne
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience