Systems analysis of sex differences reveals an immunosuppressive role for testosterone in the response to influenza vaccination

By David Furman, Boris P. Hejblum, Noah Simon, Vladimir Jojic, Cornelia L. Dekker, Rodolphe Thiébaut, Robert J. Tibshirani, and Mark M. Davis

Read original article

There are marked differences between the sexes in their immune response to infections and vaccination, with females often having significantly higher responses. However, the mechanisms underlying these differences are largely not understood. Using a systems immunology approach, we have identified a cluster of genes involved in lipid metabolism and likely modulated by testosterone that correlates with the higher antibody-neutralizing response to influenza vaccination observed in females. Moreover, males with the highest testosterone levels and expression of related gene signatures exhibited the lowest antibody responses to influenza vaccination.
This study generates a number of hypotheses on the sex differences observed in the human immune system and their relationship to mechanisms involved in the antibody response to vaccination.