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Int J Immunopharmacol. 2000 Jan;22(1):1-14.

Androstenediol stimulates myelopoiesis and enhances resistance to infection in gamma-irradiated mice.

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  • 1Radiation Casualty Management Team, Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, Bethesda, MD 20889, USA.


The ionizing radiation-induced hemopoietic syndrome is characterized by defects in immune function and increased mortality due to infections and hemorrhage. Since the steroid 5-androstene-3beta, 17beta-diol (5-androstenediol, AED) modulates cytokine expression and increases resistance to bacterial and viral infections in rodents, we tested its ability to promote survival after whole-body ionizing radiation in mice. In unirradiated female B6D2F1 mice, sc AED elevated numbers of circulating neutrophils and platelets and induced proliferation of neutrophil progenitors in bone marrow. In mice exposed to whole-body (60)Co gamma-radiation (3 Gy), AED injected 1 h later ameliorated radiation-induced decreases in circulating neutrophils and platelets and marrow granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming cells, but had no effect on total numbers of circulating lymphocytes or erythrocytes. In mice irradiated (0, 1 or 3 Gy) and inoculated four days later with Klebsiella pneumoniae, AED injected 2 h after irradiation enhanced 30-d survival. Injecting AED 24 h before irradiation or 2 h after irradiation increased survival to approximately the same extent. In K. pneumoniae-inoculated mice (irradiated at 3-7 Gy) and uninoculated mice (irradiated at 8-12 Gy), AED (160 mg/kg) injected 24 h before irradiation significantly promoted survival with dose reduction factors (DRFs) of 1.18 and 1.26, respectively. 5-Androstene-3beta-ol-17-one (dehydroepiandrosterone, DHEA) was markedly less efficacious than AED in augmenting survival, indicating specificity. These results demonstrate for the first time that a DHEA-related steroid stimulates myelopoiesis, and ameliorates neutropenia and thrombocytopenia and enhances resistance to infection after exposure of animals to ionizing radiation.

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