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Roles of Sex Hormones and Gender in the Gut Microbiota

Kichul Yoon 1Nayoung Kim 2 3

J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2021 Mar 25.doi: 10.5056/jnm20208. 


The distribution of gut microbiota varies according to age (childhood, puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and old age) and sex. Gut microbiota are known to contribute to gastrointestinal (GI) diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and colon cancer; however, the exact etiology remains elusive. Recently, sex and gender differences in GI diseases and their relation to gut microbiota has been suggested. Furthermore, the metabolism of estrogen and androgen was reported to be related to the gut microbiome. As gut microbiome is involved in the excretion and circulation process of sex hormones, the concept of «microgenderome» indicating the role of sex hormone on the gut microbiota has been suggested. However, further research is needed for this concept to be universally accepted. In this review, we summarize sex- and gender-differences in gut microbiota and the interplay of microbiota and GI diseases, focusing on sex hormones. We also describe the metabolic role of the microbiota in this regard. Finally, current subjects, such as medication including probiotics, are briefly discussed.