Sexual dimorphism in immunity across animals: a meta-analysis.

Abstract:

:In animals, sex differences in immunity are proposed to shape variation in infection prevalence and intensity among individuals in a population, with females typically expected to exhibit superior immunity due to life-history trade-offs. We performed a systematic meta-analysis to investigate the magnitude and direction of sex differences in immunity and to identify factors that shape sex-biased immunocompetence. In addition to considering taxonomic and methodological effects as moderators, we assessed age-related effects, which are predicted to occur if sex differences in immunity are due to sex-specific resource allocation trade-offs with reproduction. In a meta-analysis of 584 effects from 124 studies, we found that females exhibit a significantly stronger immune response than do males, but the effect size is relatively small, and became non-significant after controlling for phylogeny. Female-biased immunity was more pronounced in adult than immature animals. More recently published studies did not report significantly smaller effect sizes. Among taxonomic and methodological subsets of the data, some of the largest effect sizes were in insects, further supporting previous suggestions that testosterone is not the only potential driver of sex differences in immunity. Our findings challenge the notion of pervasive biases towards female-biased immunity and the role of testosterone in driving these differences.

journal_name

Ecol Lett

journal_title

Ecology letters

authors

Kelly CD,Stoehr AM,Nunn C,Smyth KN,Prokop ZM

doi

10.1111/ele.13164

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2018-12-01 00:00:00

pages

1885-1894

issue

12

eissn

1461-023X

issn

1461-0248

journal_volume

21

pub_type

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