Sex Differences in the Immune System Become Evident in the Perinatal Period in the Four Core Genotypes Mouse.
ABSTRACT: We have used the four core genotypes (FCG) mouse model, which allows a distinction between effects of gonadal secretions and chromosomal complement, to determine when sex differences in the immune system first appear and what influences their development. Using splenic T cell number as a measure that could be applied to neonates with as yet immature immune responses, we found no differences among the four genotypes at postnatal day 1, but by day 7, clear sex differences were observed. These sex differences were unexpectedly independent of chromosomal complement and similar in degree to gonadectomized FCG adults: both neonatal and gonadectomized adult females (XX and XY) showed 2-fold the number of CD4+ and 7-fold the number of CD8+ T cells versus their male (XX and XY) counterparts. Appearance of this long-lived sex difference between days 1 and 7 suggested a role for the male-specific perinatal surge of testicular testosterone. Interference with the testosterone surge significantly de-masculinized the male CD4+, but not CD8+ splenic profile. Treatment of neonates demonstrated elevated testosterone limited mature cell egress from the thymus, whereas estradiol reduced splenic T cell seeding in females. Neonatal male splenic epithelium/stroma expressed aromatase mRNA, suggesting capacity for splenic conversion of perinatal testosterone into estradiol in males, which, similar to administration of estradiol in females, would result in reduced splenic T cell seeding. These sex steroid effects affected both CD4+ and CD8+ cells and yet interference with the testosterone surge only significantly de-masculinized the splenic content of CD4+ cells. For CD8+ cells, male cells in the thymus were also found to express one third the density of sphingosine-1-phosphate thymic egress receptors per cell compared to female, a male characteristic most likely an indirect result of Sry expression. Interestingly, the data also support a previously unrecognized role for non-gonadal estradiol in the promotion of intra-thymic cell proliferation in neonates of both sexes. Microarray analysis suggested the thymic epithelium/stroma as the source of this hormone. We conclude that some immune sex differences appear long before puberty and more than one mechanism contributes to differential numbers and distribution of T cells.
Project description:Sex-based-differences are known to affect susceptibility to protozoan infections, but their effects on parasitemia and clinical symptoms in Babesia infections remain unclear. We examined the sex-based susceptibility of various mouse strains to Babesia microti Munich strain infection. In all strains, male mice exhibited significantly higher peak parasitemia and more severe anemia than female mice. Testosterone and estradiol-17? treatment caused an increase in parasitemia and aggravation of anemia. Orchidectomized male mice receiving testosterone exhibited smaller splenic macrophage populations three days after infection, smaller B cell populations 10 days after infection, and reduced splenic tumor necrosis factor-? and interferon-? mRNA expression than mice that did not receive testosterone. Mice receiving estradiol-17? did not exhibit immunosuppressive effects. Thus, a weakened and delayed innate immunity response may lead to acquired immunity failure. The results suggested that testosterone directly affects T or B cells, leading to delayed acquired immunity, dramatically increased parasitemia, and severe anemia.
Project description:Sex differences in pituitary growth hormone (GH) are well documented and coordinate maturation and growth. GH and its receptor are also produced in the brain where they may impact cognitive function and synaptic plasticity, and estradiol produces Gh sex differences in rat hippocampus. In mice, circulating estradiol increases Gh mRNA in female but not in male medial preoptic area (mPOA); therefore, additional factors regulate sexually dimorphic Gh expression in the brain. Thus, we hypothesized that sex chromosomes interact with estradiol to promote sex differences in GH. Here, we assessed the contributions of both estradiol and sex chromosome complement on Gh mRNA levels in three large brain regions: the hippocampus, hypothalamus, and cerebellum.We used the four core genotypes (FCG) mice, which uncouple effects of sex chromosomes and gonadal sex. The FCG model has a deletion of the sex-determining region on the Y chromosome (Sry) and transgenic insertion of Sry on an autosome. Adult FCG mice were gonadectomized and given either a blank Silastic implant or an implant containing 17?-estradiol. Significant differences in GH protein and mRNA were attributed to estradiol replacement, gonadal sex, sex chromosome complement, and their interactions, which were assessed by ANOVA and planned comparisons.Estradiol increased Gh mRNA in the cerebellum and hippocampus, regardless of sex chromosome complement or gonadal sex. In contrast, in the hypothalamus, females had higher Gh mRNA than males, and XY females had more Gh mRNA than XY males and XX females. This same pattern was observed for GH protein. Because the differences in Gh mRNA in the hypothalamus did not replicate prior studies using other mouse models and tissue from mPOA or arcuate nucleus, we examined GH protein in the arcuate, a subdivision of the hypothalamus. Like the previous reports, and in contrast to the entire hypothalamus, a sex chromosome complement effect showed that XX mice had more GH than XY in the arcuate.Sex chromosome complement regulates GH in some but not all brain areas, and within the hypothalamus, sex chromosomes have cell-specific actions on GH. Thus, sex chromosome complement and estradiol both contribute to GH sex differences in the brain.
Project description:Male sex was repeatedly identified as a risk factor for death and intensive care admission. However, it is yet unclear whether sex hormones are associated with disease severity in COVID-19 patients. In this study, we analysed sex hormone levels (estradiol and testosterone) of male and female COVID-19 patients (<i>n</i> = 50) admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) in comparison to control non-COVID-19 patients at the ICU (<i>n</i> = 42), non-COVID-19 patients with the most prevalent comorbidity (coronary heart diseases) present within the COVID-19 cohort (<i>n</i> = 39) and healthy individuals (<i>n</i> = 50). We detected significantly elevated estradiol levels in critically ill male COVID-19 patients compared to all control cohorts. Testosterone levels were significantly reduced in critically ill male COVID-19 patients compared to control cohorts. No statistically significant differences in sex hormone levels were detected in critically ill female COVID-19 patients, albeit similar trends towards elevated estradiol levels were observed. Linear regression analysis revealed that among a broad range of cytokines and chemokines analysed, IFN-γ levels are positively associated with estradiol levels in male and female COVID-19 patients. Furthermore, male COVID-19 patients with elevated estradiol levels were more likely to receive ECMO treatment. Thus, we herein identified that disturbance of sex hormone metabolism might present a hallmark in critically ill male COVID-19 patients.
Project description:The reproductive phase-dependent and sex-related differential expression of leptin (lep) and its receptor (lepr) in primary and secondary lymphoid organs of a highly nutritive economically important Channa punctata preempts the involvement of sex steroids in modulating intra-immuno-leptin system. This hypothesis was strengthened when plasma testosterone (T) and estradiol (E2) levels in male and female fish of reproductively active spawning and quiescent phases were correlated with lep and lepr expression in their immune organs. Splenic lep and lepr showed a negative correlation with T in both male and female, while with E2 there was a positive correlation in male and negative in female C. punctata. In head kidney, a contrasting correlation was observed as compared to spleen. To validate the implication of sex steroids in regulating leptin system in immune organs, in vivo and in vitro experiments were performed with DHT and E2. Upon administration, lep and lepr expression in tissues of either sex was downregulated. In addition, in vitro results with either of the sex steroids exemplified their direct involvement. Overall, this study, for the first time, reports correlation between sex steroids and transcript expression of leptin system in immune organs of a seasonally breeding vertebrate.
Project description:The biologically active estrogen estradiol has important roles in adult brain physiology and sexual behavior. A single gene, Cyp19a1, encodes aromatase, the enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of testosterone to estradiol in the testis and brain of male mice. Estradiol formation was shown to regulate sexual activity in various species, but the relative contributions to sexual behavior of estrogen that arises in the brain versus from the gonads remained unclear. To determine the role of brain aromatase in regulating male sexual activity, we generated a brain-specific aromatase knockout (bArKO) mouse. A newly generated whole-body total aromatase knockout mouse of the same genetic background served as a positive control. Here we demonstrate that local aromatase expression and estrogen production in the brain is partially required for male sexual behavior and sex hormone homeostasis. Male bArKO mice exhibited decreased sexual activity in the presence of strikingly elevated circulating testosterone. In castrated adult bArKO mice, administration of testosterone only partially restored sexual behavior; full sexual behavior, however, was achieved only when both estradiol and testosterone were administered together. Thus, aromatase in the brain is, in part, necessary for testosterone-dependent male sexual activity. We also found that brain aromatase is required for negative feedback regulation of circulating testosterone of testicular origin. Our findings suggest testosterone activates male sexual behavior in part via conversion to estradiol in the brain. These studies provide foundational evidence that sexual behavior may be modified through inhibition or enhancement of brain aromatase enzyme activity and/or utilization of selective estrogen receptor modulators.
Project description:It was recently reported that female mice lacking a functional vomeronasal organ (VNO) displayed male-typical sexual behavior indiscriminately toward female and male conspecifics. These results have been cited as showing that a circuit controlling male-typical sex behavior exists in both sexes, with its activation in females being tonically inhibited by VNO signaling, independent of adult sex hormones. We further assessed this hypothesis while controlling the endocrine status of female mice in which VNO function was surgically disrupted. In experiment 1, VNO-lesioned (VNOx) female mice showed no more mounting or pelvic-thrusting behavior toward an estrous female or a castrated, urine-swabbed male (presented simultaneously) than sham-operated (VNOi) females. This was true when subjects were either ovary-intact or ovariectomized and treated with estradiol, estradiol plus progesterone, or testosterone. In experiment 2, female mice given accessory olfactory bulb lesions or a sham lesion displayed equivalent frequencies of male sex behaviors when given testosterone after ovariectomy. In experiment 3, VNOx and VNOi females displayed equivalent frequencies of male sex behaviors toward an estrous female or a castrated male (presented in separate tests), again, when given testosterone after ovariectomy. Our results confirm early reports that adult testosterone can stimulate appreciable male-typical sex behavior in female mice. However, we failed to corroborate the recent claim that VNO signaling normally inhibits the activity of neural circuitry controlling the expression of male-typical mating behavior by female mice.
Project description:Feminine physical characteristics in women are positively correlated with markers of their mate quality. Previous research on men's judgments of women's facial attractiveness suggests that men show stronger preferences for feminine characteristics in women's faces when their own testosterone levels are relatively high. Such results could reflect stronger preferences for high quality mates when mating motivation is strong and/or following success in male-male competition. Given these findings, the current study investigated whether a similar effect of testosterone occurs for men's preferences for feminine characteristics in women's voices. Men's preferences for feminized versus masculinized versions of women's and men's voices were assessed in five weekly test sessions and saliva samples were collected in each test session. Analyses showed no relationship between men's voice preferences and their testosterone levels. Men's tendency to perceive masculinized men's and women's voices as more dominant was also unrelated to their testosterone levels. Together, the results of the current study suggest that testosterone-linked changes in responses to sexually dimorphic characteristics previously reported for men's perceptions of faces do not occur for men's perceptions of voices.
Project description:In both preclinical animal studies and human clinical trials, adult females tend to develop greater adaptive immune responses than males following receipt of either viral or bacterial vaccines. While there is currently no approved malaria vaccine, several anti-sporozoite vaccines, including RTS,S/AS01 and attenuated sporozoite vaccines, are in development, but the impact of sex and age on their efficacy remains undefined. To examine sex differences in the efficacy of anti-sporozoite stage malaria vaccination, adult (10?weeks of age) or juvenile (11?days of age) male and female C3H mice were twice vaccinated with irradiated transgenic Plasmodium berghei sporozoites expressing the P. falciparum circumsporozoite (CSP) protein and 45?days post boost vaccination, mice were challenged with transgenic P. berghei via mosquito bite or intradermal challenge. Immunization with irradiated sporozoites resulted in greater protection against challenge in adult females, which was associated with greater anti-CSP antibody production and avidity, as well as greater hepatic, but not splenic, CD8<sup>+</sup> T cell IFN? production in adult females than adult males. No sex differences in adaptive immune responses or protection were observed in mice vaccinated prior to puberty, suggesting a role for sex steroid hormones. Depletion of testosterone in males increased, whereas rescue of testosterone decreased, anti-CSP antibody production, the number of antigen-specific CD8<sup>+</sup> T cells isolated from the liver, and protection following parasite challenge. Conversely, depletion of sex steroids in female mice did not alter vaccine-induced responses or protection following challenge. These data suggest that elevated testosterone concentrations in males reduce adaptive immunity and contribute to sex differences in malaria vaccine efficacy.
Project description:To evaluate the relationship among single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in steroidogenesis enzyme genes, serum levels of sex steroids, and high myopia in Taiwanese male and female populations.A campus-based sample of 283 cases (145 males and 138 females) with high myopia and 280 controls (144 males and 136 females) with low myopia or emmetropia was studied. Estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone levels were determined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits. We genotyped six SNPs within five steroidogenesis enzyme genes (17 alpha-hydroxylase/17,20 lyase [CYP17A1], 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase [HSD3B1], 17 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 [HSD17B1], steroid-5-alpha-reductase, alpha polypeptide 2 [SRD5A2], and aromatase [CYP19A1]) using polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism methods. Student's t-tests, ?(2) tests, logistic regression, multifactor dimensionality reduction (MDR) methods, and ANOVA were used to determine significance.An MDR analysis corroborated the synergistic genotype association and demonstrated that synergistic interaction between rs6203 (HSD3B1), rs10046 (CYP19A1), and sex might confer susceptibility to high myopia (p=0.019). In both male and female subjects, levels of testosterone were significantly higher in cases than in controls; in male subjects, the levels of estradiol were significantly higher and those of progesterone were significantly lower in cases (all p-values <0.001). The rs605059 (HSD17B1), with sex-gene interaction, showed association with estradiol levels in males (p=0.035) and testosterone levels in females (p=0.027).Testosterone levels correlate with high myopia, and interaction of steroidogenesis enzyme genes and sex may be a modulating factor in sex hormone metabolism and high-myopia risk.
Project description:Thymic dendritic cells (DC) delete self-antigen-specific thymocytes, and drive development of Foxp3-expressing immunoregulatory T cells. Unlike medullary thymic epithelial cells, which express and present peripheral self-antigen, DC must acquire self-antigen to mediate thymic negative selection. One such mechanism entails the transfer of surface MHC-self peptide complexes from medullary thymic epithelial cells to thymic DC. Despite the importance of thymic DC cross-dressing in negative selection, the factors that regulate the process and the capacity of different thymic DC subsets to acquire MHC and stimulate thymocytes are poorly understood. In this study intercellular MHC transfer by thymic DC subsets was investigated using an MHC-mismatch-based in vitro system. Thymic conventional DC (cDC) subsets signal regulatory protein ? (SIRP?+) and CD8?+ readily acquired MHC class I and II from thymic epithelial cells but plasmacytoid DC were less efficient. Intercellular MHC transfer was donor-cell specific; thymic DC readily acquired MHC from TEC plus thymic or splenic DC, whereas thymic or splenic B cells were poor donors. Furthermore DC origin influenced cross-dressing; thymic versus splenic DC exhibited an increased capacity to capture TEC-derived MHC, which correlated with direct expression of EpCAM by DC. Despite similar capacities to acquire MHC-peptide complexes, thymic CD8?+ cDC elicited increased T cell stimulation relative to SIRP?+ cDC. DC cross-dressing was cell-contact dependent and unaffected by lipid raft disruption of donor TEC. Furthermore, blocking PI3K signaling reduced MHC acquisition by thymic CD8?+ cDC and plasmacytoid DC but not SIRP?+ cDC. These findings demonstrate that multiple parameters influence the efficiency of and distinct mechanisms drive intercellular MHC transfer by thymic DC subsets.