Novel Insights on Sex-Related Differences in Asthma.
Purpose of Review: Asthma, a common respiratory disease that affects about 10% of the US population, represents a significant public health issue. In the last decade, cumulative evidence has demonstrated sex disparities in asthma, including significant differences in epidemiology, clinical presentation, response to therapies, and health outcomes. Understanding sex-related differences in asthma enables clinicians to provide personalized asthma care and improve asthma outcome.
Recent Findings: Recent studies on sex-related differences in asthma inform us on mechanism underlying asthma pathogenesis across all age groups. Sex hormones directly modulate immune pathways crucial in asthma pathogenesis and affect individual’s response to environmental triggers and medications, such as leukokotriene inhibitors. Not surprisingly, the use of external sex hormone supplementations appears to modulate asthma risk. Identification of sex-specific asthma risk loci through genome-wide association studies also provides supporting evidence on sex-related differences in asthma. There is an interaction between sex and obesity, an interaction that could place females at higher risk for systemic inflammation and, consequently, asthma.
Summary: In this article, we review epidemiological and clinical studies on sex-related differences in asthma, with a special focus on the role of sex hormones, including hormonal therapies and the asthma-obesity interaction.