Effects of Menopause on Autoimmune Diseases

Miranda A Farage; Kenneth W Miller; Howard I Maibach


Expert Rev of Obstet Gynecol. 2012;7(6):557-571. 

In This Article

Five-year View

This review revealed a disturbing absence of data on the influence of menopause on autoimmune disease given its predominance in women and the fact that autoimmunity increases with age, an absence possibly related to an existing deficit in the understanding of the physiological basis for autoimmune disease in general. A meaningful understanding of the physiology is a challenging goal because autoimmunity clearly has multifactorial origins: a genetic component clearly provides a foundation, estrogen plays a documented role and prevalence shows a clear correlation with age. The influence of heredity on autoimmunity is being rapidly unveiled now and will no doubt contribute greatly to the elucidation of the relative additional contributions of epigenetic processes, changes in hormone levels and immunosenescence on immune function. A better understanding of the processes by which molecular events, hormonal shifts and immunosenescence impact a healthy immune system will provide a physiological basis for better ways to treat both immunosenescence and autoimmunity, a critical goal as the world population, particularly in the developed world, continues to age.