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The Effect of Testosterone on Cytokine Production in the Specific and Non-specific Immune Response

Authors

  • Elske Posma,

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospital Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • Henk Moes,

    1. Transplantation Biology and Immunoendocrinology, Division of Medical Biology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • Maas Jan Heineman,

    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospital Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • Marijke M. Faas

    1. Transplantation Biology and Immunoendocrinology, Division of Medical Biology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
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Address reprint requests to Marijke M. Faas, Transplantation Biology and Immunoendocrinology, Division of Medical Biology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9713 GZ Groningen, The Netherlands.
E-mail: m.m.faas@med.rug.nl

Abstract

Problem:  Cytokine production of monocytes and lymphocytes differs between males and females. This difference is characterized by a decreased percentage of interleukin (IL)-2-producing lymphocytes and an increased percentage of IL-12, IL-1β and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α-producing monocytes in males compared with females. In the present study, we investigated whether testosterone may explain these differences.

Method of study:  Stimulated whole blood of healthy woman was incubated with different concentrations of testosterone. Intracellular lymphocyte production of IL-2 and interferon (IFN)-γ, as well as intracellular monocyte production of IL-12, IL-1β and TNF-α were measured using flow cytometry.

Results:  A significant increased percentage of IL-12- and IL-1β-producing monocytes was found after incubation with physiological concentrations of testosterone. No effect of testosterone was found on IL-2- and IFN-γ-producing lymphocytes and TNF-α-producing monocytes.

Conclusions:  The increased percentage of IL-12- and IL-1β-producing monocytes in males compared with females in vivo may be induced by testosterone, as the in vitro percentage of IL-12- and IL-1β-producing monocytes is increased after incubation with physiological concentrations of testosterone.

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