Improving clinical outcomes through attention to sex and hormones in research

Michelle M. Mielke, Virginia M. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Biological sex, fluctuations in sex steroid hormones throughout life and gender as a social construct all influence every aspect of health and disease. Yet, for decades, most basic and clinical studies have included only male individuals. As modern health care moves towards personalized medicine, it is clear that considering sex and hormonal status in basic and clinical studies will bring precision to the development of novel therapeutics and treatment paradigms. To this end, funding, regulatory and policy agencies now require inclusion of female animals and women in basic and clinical studies. However, inclusion of female animals and women often does not mean that information regarding potential hormonal interactions with pharmacological treatments or clinical outcomes is available. All sex steroid hormones can interact with receptors for drug targets, metabolism and transport. Genetic variation in receptors or in enzymatic function might contribute to sex differences in therapeutic efficacy and adverse drug reactions. Outcomes from clinical trials are often not reported by sex, and, if the data are available, they are not translated into clinical practice guidelines. This Review will provide a historical perspective for the current state of research related to hormone trials and provide concrete strategies that, if implemented, will improve the health of all people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-635
Number of pages11
JournalNature Reviews Endocrinology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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