The evolution of greater humoral immunity in females than males: implications for vaccine efficacy

Ashley L. Fink, Sabra L. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Males and females differ in their effector and memory immune responses to foreign and self-antigens. The difference in antibody responses (i.e., humoral immunity), in particular, is one of the most well conserved sex differences in immunology. Certain sex differences in humoral immunity are present throughout life, whereas others are only apparent after puberty and prior to reproductive senescence, suggesting that both genes and hormones are involved. Importantly, these sex-based differences in humoral immunity contribute to variation in the responses to vaccines and may explain some disparities in vaccine efficacy between the sexes. Elevated humoral immunity in females compared with males is phylogenetically well conserved, suggesting an adaptive advantage of elevated antibody for reproductive success, including for the transfer of protective antibodies to offspring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-20
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Physiology
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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