The adrenal cortex plays pivotal roles in the maintenance of blood volume, responsiveness to stress and the development of gender characteristics. Gender differences of human adrenal cortex have been recently reported and attracted increasing interests. Gender differences occur from the developing stage of the adrenal, in which female subjects had more activated stem cells with higher renewal capacity resulting in gender-associated divergent structures and functions of cortical zonations of human adrenal. Female subjects generally have the lower blood pressure with the lower renin levels and ACE activities than male subjects. In addition, HPA axis was more activated in female than male, which could possibly contribute to gender differences in coping with various stressful events in our life. Of particular interest, estrogens were reported to suppress RAAS but activate HPA axis, whereas androgens had opposite effects. In addition, adrenocortical disorders in general occur more frequently in female with more pronounced adrenocortical hormonal abnormalities possibly due to their more activated WNT and PRK signaling pathways with more abundant activated adrenocortical stem cells present in female adrenal glands. Therefore, it has become pivotal to clarify the gender influence on both clinical and biological features of adrenocortical disorders. We herein reviewed recent advances in these fields.
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