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Sex and Gender Differences in Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.

Sex and Gender Differences in Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
Author Information (click to view)

Kim YS, Kim N, Kim GH,


Kim YS, Kim N, Kim GH, (click to view)

Kim YS, Kim N, Kim GH,

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Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility 22(4) 575-588 doi 10.5056/jnm16138
Abstract

It is important to understand sex and gender-related differences in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) because gender-related biologic factors might lead to better prevention and therapy. Non-erosive reflux disease (NERD) affects more women than men. GERD symptoms are more frequent in patients with NERD than in those with reflux esophagitis. However, men suffer pathologic diseases such as reflux esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus (BE), and esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) more frequently than women. The prevalence of reflux esophagitis is significantly increased with age in women, especially after their 50s. The mean age of EAC incidence in women is higher than in men, suggesting a role of estrogen in delaying the onset of BE and EAC. In a chronic rat reflux esophagitis model, nitric oxide was found to be an aggravating factor of esophageal injury in a male-predominant way. In addition, the expression of esophageal occludin, a tight junction protein that plays an important role in the esophageal defense mechanism, was up-regulated in women. This explains the male predominance of reflux esophagitis and delayed incidence of BE or EAC in women. Moreover, the symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and extra-esophageal symptoms have been more frequently reported by women than by men, suggesting that sex and gender play a role in symptom perception. Differential sensitivity with augmented symptoms in women might have diagnostic and therapeutic influence. Furthermore, recent studies have suggested that hormone replacement therapy has a protective effect against esophageal cancer. However, an anti-inflammatory role of estrogen remains compelling, which means further study is necessary in this area.

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