Sex differences in susceptibility to infection: An evolutionary perspective

Marlene Zuk, Andrew M. Stoehr

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

21 Scopus citations


Patterns of sex differences in parasite infection and immune responses have been noted for many decades. Although numerous explanations for such differences have been proposed, including hormonal patterns and sex-biased exposure to infective stages of pathogens, these have largely been proximate explanations that address the mechanisms immediately responsible for the findings but do not take a more integrative or ultimate approach. Here, we present an evolutionary framework for understanding the origin and maintenance of sex differences in the incidence and susceptibility to infectious disease, using life history theory and sexual selection to make predictions about when males or females in a particular species are expected to be more or less susceptible to parasites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSex Hormones and Immunity to Infection
PublisherSpringer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783642021558
ISBN (Print)9783642021541
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


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