Influence of the Murine Oestrous Cycle on the Induction of Mucosal Immunity


Address reprint requests to Kenneth W. Beagley, Discipline of Immunology and Microbiology, School of Biomedical Science, Faculty of Health, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW 2308, Australia.


Problem: To determine if the stage of oestrous cycle, at the time of immunization, affects the magnitude of mucosal and systemic immunity.

Method of study: Female BALB/c mice were immunized with tetanus toxoid and cholera toxin by the oral, intranasal and transcutaneous routes. Groups of mice were immunized at proestrus, oestrus, postestrus and diestrus. Antibodies in serum and mucosal secretions were determined by ELISA and T cell responses by lymphocyte proliferation assay.

Results: Oral immunization at the oestradiol dominant stage of cycle (oestrus and proestrus) significantly enhanced TT-specific IgG and IgA levels in female reproductive tract (FRT) secretions and TT-specific IgA levels in faecal extracts. Transcutaneous immunization at diestrus enhanced TT-specific IgG in faecal extracts. TT-specific T cell proliferation is greatest following intranasal immunization at proestrus and transcutaneous immunization at diestrus, particularly in the caudal and lumbar lymph nodes draining the FRT and colon.

Conclusions: Reproductive cycle-associated changes in the endogenous sex hormones oestradiol and progesterone influence the levels of vaccine-induced immunity in the FRT and distal colon following oral and transcutaneous immunization.