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J Immunol. 2006 Jul 1;177(1):621-30.

Gender differences in murine airway responsiveness and lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation.

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Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, 111 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


The roles of gender and sex hormones in lung function and disease are complex and not completely understood. The present study examined the influence of gender on lung function and respiratory mechanics in naive mice and on acute airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness induced by intratracheal LPS administration. Basal lung function characteristics did not differ between naive males and females, but males demonstrated significantly greater airway responsiveness than females following aerosolized methacholine challenge as evidenced by increased respiratory system resistance and elastance (p < 0.05). Following LPS administration, males developed more severe hypothermia and greater airway hyperresponsiveness than females (p < 0.05). Inflammatory indices including bronchoalveolar lavage fluid total cells, neutrophils, and TNF-alpha content were greater in males than in females 6 h following LPS administration (p < 0.05), whereas whole-lung TLR-4 protein levels did not differ among treatment groups, suggesting that differential expression of TLR-4 before or after LPS exposure did not underlie the observed inflammatory outcomes. Gonadectomy decreased airway inflammation in males but did not alter inflammation in females, whereas administration of exogenous testosterone to intact females increased their inflammatory responses to levels observed in intact males. LPS-induced airway hyperresponsiveness was also decreased in castrated males and was increased in females administered exogenous testosterone. Collectively, these data indicate that airway responsiveness in naive mice is influenced by gender, and that male mice have exaggerated airway inflammatory and functional responses to LPS compared with females. These gender differences are mediated, at least in part, by effects of androgens.

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