Sex-related Differences in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: The Potential Role of Sex Hormones

Leiqi Xu, Gang Huang, Yingzi Cong, Yanbo Yu, Yanqing Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, is a global health care problem. Compelling evidence shows sex differences regarding the prevalence, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, and treatment outcome of IBD. Sex hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and androgen, have been proposed to have a role in the pathogenesis of sexual dimorphism in IBD. Clinical and experimental data support the modulatory effects of sex hormones on various clinical characteristics of the disease, including intestinal barrier dysfunction and mucosal immune activation. Additionally, the potential role of sex hormones in the modulation of gut microbiota is attracting increasing attention. Here, we discuss the sex dimorphic disease profile and address the potential mechanisms involved in the sex-specific pathogenesis of IBD. Improved understanding of these sex differences in the clinic could improve the knowledge of patients with IBD with heterogeneous disease profiles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1766-1775
Number of pages10
JournalInflammatory bowel diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022


  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • sex difference
  • sex hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology


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