Sex, gonadal hormones, and environmental health: impact on respiratory disease

Patricia Silveyra

Professor and Chair, Anthony D. Pantaleoni Eminent Scholar

Department of Environmental and Occupational Health

Indiana University Bloomington School of Public Health

Seminar Information

Seminar Date
September 27, 2024 - 2:00 PM

The FUNG Auditorium - PFBH

p silveyra


Sex differences in respiratory diseases and in response to inhaled toxicants have been reported across the life span. Adult women tend to display higher rates of inflammatory lung diseases and worsened lung health outcomes than men when exposed to environmental pollutants such as ozone, particulate matter, cigarette and wood smoke, and volatile organic compounds. In addition, recent findings have suggested that women who vape have increased odds of symptoms for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than men who vape. While it has been known for decades that males and females respond differently to environmental insults, it was only in 2016 that the NIH policy on the incorporation of sex as a biological variable in the design, analysis, and reporting of animal and human studies went into effect. The available literature suggests that sex disparities in the prevalence and susceptibility to lung disease are determined by the intersection of both sex (biological) and gender (social construct). To this end, the contributions of sex and gender have been explored in developmental processes, susceptibility to disease, inflammatory and immune responses, and worsening of pre-existing conditions. Work for my lab and others have shown that gonadal hormones play a complex role in shaping the responses to inhaled environmental toxicants. This presentation will summarize the results from animal and in vitro studies linking sex as a biological variable with lung health outcomes triggered by exposure to inhaled air pollutants and allergens.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Patricia Silveyra is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at Indiana University Bloomington School of Public Health. Her research focuses on the study of sex differences and the role of sex hormones and their receptors in mechanisms of lung inflammation. She uses a combination of in vivo and in-vitro models to assess the effects of environmental exposures such as air pollutants, allergens, and vapes in both the healthy and diseased lung, with special consideration of sex as a biological variable and gonadal hormones.