Why are women predisposed to autoimmune rheumatic diseases?

In the current issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy, Jacqueline Oliver and Alan Silman explore the various factors that influence susceptibility to the major autoimmune connective tissue disorders, in search for an explanation for the high female-to-male predisposition ratio.

Autoimmune diseases of all organ sites and systems affect approximately 8% of the population, around 78% of whom are women.  The majority of studies into this female predominance have focused on examining the affect of hormonal fluctuations on disease risk.

Oliver and Silman provide a detailed review of these hormonal influences, as well as genetics and gender differences in lifestyle factors, focusing on rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and scleroderma. The authors convey the complexity of autoimmune disease susceptibility and the need for further studies to disentangle the many contributing factors.

Why are women predisposed to autoimmune rheumatic diseases?
Jacqueline E Oliver, Alan J Silman
Arthritis Research & Therapy 2009, 11:252 (26 October 2009)
[Abstract] [Full text] [PDF]

The commissioned reviews published in Arthritis Research & Therapy‘s regular issues usually require a subscription for access, but a free 30-day trial is available. Moreover, recipients of the BioMed Central Update, in which Arthritis Research & Therapy features regularly, are provided with unique opportunities to freely access subscription review content published in BMC journals. Register for the Update here, or alternatively, recommend the journal to your librarian via the website.

Abigail Jones
Senior Assistant Editor – Arthritis Research & Therapy

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