Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : No clear explanation exists to understand how sex hormones and/or chromosomes affect the immune system. In vitro studies of human lymphoid cells also show sex differences in immune function. To evaluate these differences in frequent pediatric emergencies, we analyze the expression of inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and neutrophil count) underlying inflammatory processes in children: 482 children (241 girls and 241 boys) hospitalized for pneumonia (n = 384), pyelonephritis (n = 39), or bronchiolitis (n = 59) matched for age and sex. All patients were younger than 10 years. A control population of 97 children (50 girls and 47 boys) admitted for day surgery (tonsillectomy, circumcision, or strabismus) was included. We observed highly significant differences between girls and boys: median C-reactive protein concentration of 5.45 mg/dL (range, 0.2-36.0 mg/dL) for girls and 2.6 mg/dL (range, 0.3-37.3 mg/dL) for boys (P < 0.0001), and median erythrocyte sedimentation rate of 39.5 mm/h (range, 2-104 mm/h) for girls and 24 mm/h (range, 4-140 mm/h) for boys (P < 0.005). Neutrophil counts were also significantly different: a median of 8,796 cells/microL (range, 328-27,645 cells/microL) for girls and 6,774 cells/microL (range, 600-38,668 cells/microL) for boys (P < 0.02). The duration of fever after initiating antibiotic therapy was longer in girls than in boys, but there was no difference (Fisher exact test, P < 0.06). The present study documents a relationship between sex and both the production of inflammatory markers and neutrophil recruitment. Sex difference also showed more direct clinical relevance with associations seen between sex and both duration of fever and duration of disease (bronchiolitis P < 0.0007).