Why are autoimmune diseases more prevalent in women?

Women are less susceptible to infectious diseases than men, but are more often prone to autoimmune diseases. This higher prevalence is partly attributable to the X chromosome, which has many genes relating to the immune system. It is advantageous for women to have two X chromosomes, but the price is a greater tendency to develop autoimmunity.

Women are healthier and live longer than men. They are less susceptible to infectious diseases, but on the other hand 80% of individuals with autoimmune diseases are women. These diseases affect 5–10% of the population, are often chronic, and represent a considerable burden on healthcare budgets.

The autoimmune diseases are a heterogeneous group with multifactorial causes. The common denominator is an immunological reaction that leads to the breakdown, either systemic or organ-specific, of tolerance for the subject’s own tissue.

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