Sex-specific differences in glioblastoma

Anna Carrano, Juan Jose Juarez, Diego Incontri, Antonio Ibarra, Hugo Guerrero Cazares

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Sex differences have been well identified in many brain tumors. Even though glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common primary malignant brain tumor in adults and has the worst outcome, well-established differences between men and women are limited to incidence and outcome. Little is known about sex differences in GBM at the disease phenotype and genetical/molecular level. This review focuses on a deep understanding of the pathophysiology of GBM, including hormones, metabolic pathways, the immune system, and molecular changes, along with differences between men and women and how these dimorphisms affect disease outcome. The information analyzed in this review shows a greater incidence and worse outcome in male patients with GBM compared with female patients. We highlight the protective role of estrogen and the upregulation of androgen receptors and testosterone having detrimental effects on GBM. Moreover, hormones and the immune system work in synergy to directly affect the GBM microenvironment. Genetic and molecular differences have also recently been identified. Specific genes and molecular pathways, either upregulated or downregulated depending on sex, could potentially directly dictate GBM outcome differences. It appears that sexual dimorphism in GBM affects patient outcome and requires an individualized approach to management considering the sex of the patient, especially in relation to differences at the molecular level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1783
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Glioblastoma
  • Glioma
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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