Hormones and MS: Risk factors, biomarkers, and therapeutic targets

January 8, 2018 (Multiple Sclerosis Journal)

Sex differences including hormones, chromosomes and epigenetic factors are determinants of MS disease risk that are also dependent on age.

Here are some examples:

1. Women are more likely to develop MS than men during childbearing years.

2. Women during childbearing years are less likely to see progression to disability.

3. Early puberty is a risk factor for MS.

4. Pregnancy has a protective effect on MS relapse.

5. There is an increased risk of MS relapse post partum, however breastfeeding may mitigate this risk.

6. There is an increased rate of disability progression in women after menopause.

Therapies involving exogenous hormones (like oral contraceptives, testosterone and progesterone) have been proposed to abate MS progression.

Read the article to see the full range of the effects of sex differences on MS risk and progression.