Gender and health

Sex and gender differences in physiology and pathology

Hormonal, genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors can be at the basis of sex/gender specific differences in terms of both health and disease. It is known that cells derived from male subjects, equipped with the XY sex chromosomes, and female cells characterized by the XX sex chromosomes, respond differently to stress and to exposure to physical, chemical, biological and nutritional agents. 

More generally, most diseases that affect both sexes, such as tumors, immune-mediated diseases, cardiovascular and infectious diseases, show differences in terms of frequency, clinical manifestations, progression, prognosis, symptoms, and response to treatments. 

The objective of the Italian National Institute of Health (ISS) is to understand the reason and the mechanisms underlying these differences.