Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, inflammatory joint disease that can lead to irreversible disability. It affects women in a higher proportion than men (3:1 cases). Several reports suggest a link between female sexual hormones (estrogens) and RA features. It’s been described that biological processes where basal estrogen levels are altered like in menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause modifies RA onset, flare, disease severity, and inflammation. Estrogens have a direct action upon the immune system though ERα and ERβ receptors, which have distinct affinity to estrogen concentrations and modifications and have effects upon RA in a dose and receptor dependent manner. The studies focused on dose dependent response at experimental settings reveal a wide (from 25 pg/L to several μg/L) and even contradictory spectrum of effects in patients and cells. This chapter summarizes the contributions and effects of estrogens in RA physiopathology, clinical features, and discusses the possible contributions of estrogen administration and concentration of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to improve the quality of life and reduce the symptoms of RA patients based on the knowledge of the biology of these hormones.
Part of the book: Rheumatoid Arthritis